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Surveying E1: Anne Newill's story

Posted on 07 April 2014 by NatCen, Research .

From Brick Lane to Upminster, Ilford to Enfield, interviewer Anne Newill is an East End girl at heart. Here, she talks about her fondness for the area and the families that she’s met since working on the Ethnic Minority Boost sample back in 2009.

“I’ve been with Understanding Society since the beginning. One of my first jobs was working on the screening sample for the Ethnic Minority Boost, which involved knocking on doors of around 90 addresses.

We were given five days to complete the job; our aim was to establish whether anyone at those addresses had household members from specific ethnic backgrounds.

For me, this threw up some real surprises. I’d expected certain areas – Brick Lane for example – to have a fairly high proportion of ethnic minorities, yet this wasn’t the case. The distribution of ethnic minorities seemed to vary a lot, not only across boroughs but within specific postcodes. It was a fascinating experience and it was great to find so many households who were excited about taking part.

“Over the past five years, I’ve returned to my East End stamping ground many times, and have built up some really wonderful relationships with my respondents. I love going back to the same families; they’re always surprised if I remember anything about them – I certainly do!”

I’m also proud to remind my respondents that they’re taking part in the world’s largest longitudinal study. In my experience, I know that Understanding Society is a true reflection of life in Britain. From students in one-room flats to Executive Directors in mansions; I’ve seen it all.

What makes it memorable is watching families change and grow; from couples living together and splitting up, to marriages, children, even deaths. It’s such a privilege to be a part of these changing, and often intensely private, life experiences.”

Did you know?

  • There has been no dedicated national survey of Britain’s main ethnic minority groups since 1994
  • There has never been a national household panel survey in which substantial numbers of minority group members are followed year on year.

The Ethnicity Strand helps find out:

  • If people identify differently with their own ethnic group after they marry or move to a different area
  • Whether different ethnic groups are penalised within the job market
  • When and how health inequalities emerge

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