We’re nearly done! Officially, the current phase of our research about the Non-Stop Picket comes to an end in under a fortnight. Since July 2011 our work has been funded by a research project grant from the Leverhulme Trust. That funding runs out at the end of this month. Although our work won’t stop then; inevitably, that means that the nature of our work (and probably this blog) will change over the coming months. We want to use this post as an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved and to look to the immediate future.
We have now recorded the stories and memories of 87 people who were involved with maintaining the Non-Stop Picket or were close supporters of the protest. The majority of these were either recorded face-to-face (46) or over ‘live’ over Skype (11), but about a third of respondents (30) shared their stories through email ‘interviews’ or other online means. In this tally, we have not counted those people who shared very short recollections as comments on this blog, but we have included those who emailed extended narratives through this site. On average, the recorded interviews (whether conducted face-to-face or over Skype) lasted just over an hour and a half.
The picketers that we have interviewed span a wide age range – the youngest (who were just becoming teenagers at the end of the Non-Stop Picket) are in their mid-thirties; whilst the oldest is in his eighties. We interviewed slightly more women (49) than men (38).
In addition to the interviews with Non-Stop Picketers, we also recorded the memories of nine retired police officers who had been involved in policing the picket in some shape or form. In contrast to the expansive interviews with picketers, these interactions mostly took the form of short email questionnaires, or brief telephone interviews around a limited range of questions.
We have also gathered and analysed a large archive of photos and papers from the time. We have been lucky enough to discover that the entire contents of the City Group office are intact and privately stored (although we are working to negotiate a longer term, secure home for these papers in a publicly accessible archive in London). Helen compiled a comprehensive inventory and summary of the material in this archive. Individual picketers have also been very generous in sharing their own photos and papers with us.
Put together, the interview material, the photos and the archive are a huge resource. We have done a lot with them, but we’ve still only scratched the surface. There is a lot more to come. Over the last two years, this blog has been a useful way of regularly telling stories from the research and from the Non-Stop Picket. We have (until recently) usually managed to update the blog weekly. At first, we followed the calendar of the Picket and recorded stories that related to events ‘on this day’; but, as the project progressed, the posts have become a bit more thematic. Over the coming months, the tone of the blog will probably change again. Gavin is currently on a research sabbatical until September 2014 in order to write-up work from this research. By September, he hopes to break the back of drafting a book about youthful solidarities and the Non-Stop Picket. Gavin and Helen have other, shorter writing projects planned too. We can’t promise to update the blog every week over the coming period, but we can promise you bit and pieces from our writing, as it develops. This blog has been a useful way of testing out ideas and emerging analysis, as we’ve gone along. The feedback we’ve received from former picketers and other readers has been invaluable. We hope that dialogue and interaction will continue.
Thank you for your continued interest, support and encouragement. We appreciate it.