This research paper explores a number of aspects of the researcher’s chosen community. The aspects under consideration include the description of the community, key informants, reasons for contacting the informants, and important skills for engagement. The community of interest in this paper is the homeless people of Derry City. This is because the issue of homelessness within the city has drawn a lot of public attention due to a number of struggles that these people endure on a daily basis in spite of the city being a commercial hub for many economic models within the country. Also, this issue has cropped up in the city in recent years. Some seven years ago, it was uncommon to witness people sleeping on the streets unlike nowadays. The key informants identified include the homeless people, local authorities, and members of the public over the perceptions that they had towards the homeless within the city. The principal reason for contacting the informants was to establish a true and unbiased view of the homeless community within the city. Finally, two important skills for engagement with the homeless community were identified; these are empathy and rapport building.
When undertaking a needs assessment for any community it is imperious that an individual has the relevant skills that allow him or her to integrate with the members of the community so as to undertake a study on their needs and the resources that they have at their disposal so as to meet these needs (Itzhaky & York, 2002). The aim of this assessment was to conduct a needs assessment on a given community so as to establish the best strategies that could be applied so that the needs of the society are met in the long-term.
Description of the Community
The community that I selected and assessed was the homeless people in Derry City. Homelessness within the city has been an issue that has drawn a lot of public attention as a result of the various struggles that these individuals go through on a daily basis despite the city being a business hub for many economic models within the country. The target group will be individuals who do not have permanent shelters in the city or the suburbs and are thereby forced to sleep on the streets.
The majority of the people within this community do not have a job and only rely on food and cash that they are given by well wishers and passers-by on the streets. Due to the lack of income, some rely on welfare support from the local authorities in terms of food and clothing. The main reason that made me choose this community is due to the increase it has been experiencing in the past five years. In 2010, it was rare to find a homeless man on the street; however, this has changed with many homeless people sleeping on the streets today.
Some of the key informants that I identified included the homeless people, local authorities, and members of the public over the perceptions that they had towards the homeless within the city. Other informants included local shops and supermarket owners who are on many occasions on the forefront when dealing with homeless people. The police are also other informants that could provide key details about the society and how their presence in society affects the wellbeing and welfare of the people.
Reasons for contacting the Informants
There are numerous reasons that I identified several informants about the plight of the homeless in Derry City. The first major reason was so as to establish a true and unbiased view about the community. When undertaking such a study, it is important to ensure that all the information that is collected is true and relates to the given community. The homeless would be contacted so as to understand the various factors that contributed to them being on the streets in the first place. Such information could be used in the needs assessment so as to come up with strategies that reduce their presence on the streets. Contacting the local authorities would also be important to the study since it would come up with the various numbers about the group and the various demographic aspects about the selected community.
Important Skills for Engagement
When performing the needs assessment, it is important to possess various skills that can allow a researcher to get the needed pieces of information about society in general. One of the most important skills is empathy. Empathy is the ability of a researcher to understand the needs of the community that is being studied (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2012). When dealing with the homeless, it is imperious that a researcher exemplifies a lot of empathy since such empathy is directly related to the level of communication that may take place between the two parties. The homeless are on many occasions starved and failure to show empathy could lead to them not offering the much-needed information for the research to be a success. I chose the skill as a fundamental one since it can be difficult to deal with the group due to the various challenges that it faces on a daily basis.
The second skill that I identified that could be vital in the needs assessment exercise is rapport building. Rapport building is the ability of a researcher to create a harmonious and close relationship between the various groups that exist within the community. In the needs assessment test, rapport building could include the ability to make partnerships with the various groups of informants that were selected so as to clearly come up with vital information that could allow me to study the group so as to come up with the various interventions that could be made so as to ensure that their well-being is enhanced in the future.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2012). Understanding generalist practice (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. Chapter 5, “Engagement and Assessment in Generalist Practice” (pp. 161-206)
Itzhaky, H., & York, A. S. (2002). Showing results in community organization. Social Work, 47(2), 125-131. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.