We’re periodically asked to research very hard-to-reach communities in the UK such as Gypsy travellers, the homeless and refugees. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to recruit such groups, and what the processes should be to protect individuals from these groups as well as researchers going into the field?
I would expect that gate-keepers or facilitators from church, charity, local authority and other NGO organisations would play a much larger roll in securing interviews with members of these groups, but I would like to know from others with experience in the field how they successfully completed research with these groups.
I used to work at the Mental Health Center of Denver (http://www.mhcd.org) where we provided our services to individuals who were mostly homeless with mental illness. For some of the research we did, we used to invite some of these individuals so they could receive some basic services (meals, perhaps some health checkups, etc.). And if we established good rapport, we will provide them with cellphones (cheap ones that can be recharged with time). This will allow us to have direct contact when needed, and also, will provide an incentive for them to be in touch with us (once their minutes ran off). We also provided them after interviews/focus groups with gift certificates from grocery stores.