Bringing Everything I Am Into One Place
An Inquiry into how we can all better support young people facing severe and multiple disadvantage
This book is a window into an ongoing conversation. Although those of us who put pen to paper to write these words are researchers by training and profession, this is not a typical research report. Throughout two years of conversations, meetings, and reading with young people facing severe and multiple disadvantage and those who seek to help them, we have tried to listen carefully to stories. In this book, we hope to relate the experiences and hopes, successes and frustrations of the hundred people who at various points were in the room with us, and many more who contributed through interviews and writings.
As a window into a conversation, this book does not have some of the features readers might expect from a report on an Inquiry. We have tried to keep the tone informal, even impressionistic. These words are the reflections of observers who are exploring, discovering, andseeking to understand. We hope we have been able to shed light on some of the problems, but the solutions suggested by the conversation are only partly formed. We hope readers will find inspiration and challenge. They will find no magic bullets.
This book ‘exposes the scaffolding’ of the process of research and discovery. Anyone who has been involved in research knows that it is messy. The usual process is like constructing a house with only partial blueprints. Researchers try out different questions and approaches.
They experiment with concepts and definitions. Slowly, sometimes backtracking, they build a structure of ideas and evidence that will become an article or a book. They put up scaffolding and build some rooms. Some rooms get kept; some don’t work and get destroyed. When they are finished with a piece of research, researchers take down the scaffolding. The finished piece sounds confident, argumentative, objective. It poses a clear question and a clear answer. Readers rarely know how much uncertainty went into its construction.
Rigorous, methodical, empirical research is, of course, immensely valuable. But that is not the task at hand. This house is in midconstruction, and we want readers to ‘see the scaffolding’. Not all the statements in this book are equally well-evidenced. Some are provocative – perhaps too provocative. We think the stories we have heard so far in this conversation have the potential to challenge radically our society’s approach to young people facing severe and multiple disadvantage, and indeed its approach to many marginalised groups. Sometimes, in seeking to share that radical potential, we may tip the baby out with the bathwater. We invite readers to push back, to help us to build more nuance into the emerging argument.
The conversation isn’t finished, and the house isn’t complete. We hope you will join us as we continue the process of sharing and building.