I’m Jo Birch; I have 20 years of experience in my field and a PhD from Durham University. One of the things I do is carry out qualitative research, which means I deal with people: the things they do; the places they inhabit; the words they say and I’m interested in their feelings and experiences. There are wonderful researchers out there who work with statistics and with Big Data. I’m not one of those researchers. I work best with the stories of individuals, groups and communities.
The people I have worked with range from academics, fishermen, consultant paediatricians, architects, children, teachers, community workers to parents, nurses, wildlife conservationists and artists – often from the UK but frequently from other European countries (e.g. Finland, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Sweden).
All of my work so far has been threaded with the theme of people, space and place, many times with emphasis upon children’s and young people’s experiences. I am fascinated by children’s embodied and material lives, of the tacit knowledge they have of spaces they inhabit and I have a strong belief in children’s abilities to communicate what they know and experience. These thoughts have grown from much research, my start in working life as a teacher and day to day experience as a parent of two children.
I maintain connections with others in the field of childhood research as an invited External Partner at the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, University of Sheffield.
I hail from a multidisciplinary background having previously been based in university departments of education, geography, anthropology, sociology and architecture. I have worked variously as sole researcher, in teaching teams and in research collaboration.
As a perpetual explorer of ideas – researching, writing offering teaching, training and facilitation, I continue my own learning whilst helping others celebrate and negotiate personal and institutional research challenges and opportunities.