In November 2017, Lynne McMordie was appointed as our first intern under the I-SPHERE Oak Foundation research internship programme.
This exciting partnership programme aims to support the development of a stream of early career researchers, produce high quality research, and strengthen the evidence base on tacking homelessness in the UK.
In this Q&A Lynne tells us about her experiences to date and, with the second round of internships currently being advertised, she encourages other people to apply.
Tell us a little bit about you
My name is Lynne McMordie and I live in Northern Ireland. I am a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and hold a BA and MA in English Literature. I have worked in the homeless sector since 2003 and have managed a range of homelessness services, including: temporary accommodation, peripatetic care and support, floating support, crisis accommodation, drop-in centre and street outreach services. I have worked extensively with marginalised families and adults, particularly in the areas of destitution, complex needs and multiple exclusion.
What made you decide to apply for an internship?
I have always been interested in social research and the impact that it has on our approach to housing and homelessness; the internship represented a really exciting opportunity to further develop this interest. I was also excited at the prospect of completing my own research project on a topic I feel passionately about, and hopefully that my research would contribute positively to addressing the needs of vulnerable homeless households in Northern Ireland. It was this potential – to develop my knowledge and make a positive contribution – which really captured my imagination. I didn’t hesitate to apply and was delighted to be offered the post.
What have been the highlights of your time as intern so far?
There are so many highlights. It is honestly difficult to select from amongst them! One of the most enlightening aspects of the internship has been working within the Oak Foundation team. The depth and breadth of their work in preventing and addressing homelessness is truly remarkable; to be afforded an insight into this work is a real privilege. Working alongside the I-SPHERE team has been equally rewarding. Their knowledge and experience in the field of social research is inspirational, and to have their support in designing and developing a research project has been a truly incredible experience. In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I am now intent on pursuing a career in social research.
Tell us a bit about the research project you are working on and the difference you see it making
Before taking my internship, I spent a number of years managing a street outreach service which delivered services to people who were rough sleeping. During this time I became very aware that temporary accommodation didn’t always provide a pathway out of homelessness. Some of those who were rough sleeping had stayed in many temporary accommodation services only to subsequently abandon their place or be evicted. I wanted to research this topic; to find out more about the experiences of people who had a history of repeat homelessness and cyclical housing failure. Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Dr Beth Watts supported me to design a research project which captured these experiences and placed them in the context of what is currently happening in the homeless sector in Northern Ireland. The sector is committed to reviewing temporary accommodation provision and I am hopeful that this review will be influenced in some respect by the views and perspectives of those experiencing the most acute forms of homelessness in Belfast.
What have you got out of the internship – personally and professionally?
Professionally, the internship has really developed my knowledge of homelessness and increased my understanding of social research. It has brought together my work experience in the homeless sector and my academic achievements, and has given me a platform to potentially progress towards a PhD. Perhaps most importantly, it has given me the space, time and resources to explore an aspect of homelessness which I have felt passionately about for some time.
On a personal level, the internship offers an opportunity to work with a great deal of independence and flexibility. I have found this to be really beneficial in terms of creating a good work-life balance!
What advice would you give to people considering applying for an internship?
I would say, don’t hesitate! The internship is an amazing opportunity. If you have an interest in the grant making process, or a desire to explore a research topic, this really is the opportunity for you. The support and guidance you will receive is outstanding. The internship has afforded me an amazing opportunity to develop new skills and move to a new phase in my career. I’m sure it will do the same for you.
We are currently recruiting for our next interns
Are you a talented social researchers with an excellent undergraduate degree. You may have a masters or a PhD but this is not essential. You will have a unique proposed research project which will contribute new insights to the housing and homelessness field. You will be self-motivated with first rate organisation, research and communications skills. More information can be found on our recent Paid Internship Programme on Homelessness post.