1. Introduction

Since the 1990s, the importance of the participation of people in poverty in social work research has been emphasised (Beresford, 2002; Beresford & Croft, 2004; Krumer-Nevo, 2005, 2016; Lister, 2002, 2004; Mehta, 2008). The essence of poverty has been framed as a structural problem of non-participation: people in poverty are excluded from the process in which poverty and anti-poverty strategies are defined (De Bie, Roets & Roose, 2013). 'Giving voice' has quite recently entered the realm of poverty research, based on the idea that:  

"opening our ears to the voices of poor (...) is vital to the humanising of citizens and institutions, including research (...) and offers a unique potential contribution to the overall corpus of knowledge because it reflects the point of view of people on the fringes of society concerning their own lives, as well as society and its primary institutions" (Krumer-Nevo, 2005: 99–100).  

Moreover, Freire (1972) argues aptly that non-poor people, such as social work researchers, who actually have the power to bring about social justice and social change often, and quite unintentionally, also maintain the status quo. Premised on the idea that people in poverty are experts by experience in poverty (Lister, 2004), engaging with people in poverty in participatory ways in social work research embodies a fruitful strategy for gaining an in-depth understanding of the complex and multifaceted nature of poverty as a social problem, and of the relevance of social work interventions.  

In that vein, our example is based on a research project conducted in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) in which the life histories of families in poverty situations were retrospectively explored. The aim of the research project was to identify which social work interventions in child and family social work were experienced as meaningful by the families for their mobility out of poverty (see Schiettecat et al., 2016).  

In our example, we have used the guiding questions of the RPP involving six packages of focus to describe our experience.