‘Having a L.A.F.’ – Research at SAOL

International Women’s Day 2020

Does life begin at forty…

March brought us the launch of the much anticipated Life after 40 research project; this research piece was unique in many ways. Firstly the research was both constructed and conducted by a group of 14 women who were themselves participants on the Saol project aftercare programme. This in itself was very significant as it is not often that women who are group members themselves often go on to become researchers. This group of women undertook training in research techniques and then went on to carry out their own piece of research on something that was significant and relevant to them; in its purest form this is what we call peer lead research.

40 is often seen as the pinnacle point in a woman’s life, we have all heard sayings such as life begins at 40. Is there any truth in this or is 40 the start of a downward spiral in a woman’s life? For many females who use/d drugs , reaching 40 is often a major milestone in one’s life as many never expected to reach that age, but with this increase in longevity women from the drug using population are often faced with many health complications associated with neglect, lack of self-care etc. One of the burning questions of this research was is it different for women from this community in comparison to women who have no direct experience of drug use.

The women met on a weekly basis where there were tears, tantrums and lots of laughs, the women became educated in research techniques and from there compiled a research questionnaire in which they themselves carried out amongst friends, relatives’ neighbours and colleagues. The women took part in focus groups, data input and analysis and carried out both qualitative and quantitative analysis of data. One of the highlights of this research piece was the fact that women were able to come together and be open and honest and share their experiences, fears, hopes and desires. The group was a place where women felt heard, valued and most importantly not judged. The fear and the excitement of carrying out research amongst their peers in the community and not been the subject of researchers was quite liberating for the women involved.

-Jennifer

SAOL Co-ordinator

“Having’ a laf” (Life after forty) Research Launch

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