Fair Start Scotland employability service - year 4: focus group discussions

Findings from a series of focus group discussions with participants of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability service who are disabled or have a long term health conditions or are from minority ethnic groups. It covers year 4 (April 2021 to March 2022) of FSS delivery.

Appendix 1: Methodology


The process for recruiting focus group discussions participants changed over time with two distinct phases:

Phase 1:

  • a list from management information data of all those who joined the service in Year 4 (April 2021 – March 2022) in one particular geographic contact area was created
  • only those service participants where management information indicated that they were disabled or had a long term health condition or were from minority ethnic group were retained
  • FSS service users were selected for initial contact ensuring a spread across other characteristics including employment status (in-work or not in-work) age group, gender and parental status
  • potential participants were contacted by a Scottish Government researcher via the phone to invite them to take part

During this initial recruitment phase it became apparent that not enough participants would be recruited, as many participants were hard to contact or were not interested in taking part. To ensure enough individuals would be recruited we approached the local provider of FSS to ask if they could identify potential focus group participants who met the inclusion criteria and whom they felt may be interested in taking part in the study.

Phase 2:

  • the local FSS provider identified and contacted a sample of individuals to talk to them about the study and if those individuals were interested in taking part, to let them know that a social researcher from the Scottish Government would be contacting them to invite them to take part.
  • participant were contacted by a Scottish Government researcher by phone to invite them to take part.

Each individual who agreed to take part was emailed a study information sheet that explained the aims of the study and how the findings would be used ahead of the focus group discussions. Participants were also provided with a printed copy of the information sheet at the beginning of each focus group discussion.

Data collection

Focus groups were conducted by social researchers from the Scottish Government and took place in-person during August 2022. Focus group discussions took place in the offices of one of the FSS providers locally as it was felt that this location was already familiar to participants. A face-to-face mode was choses for these focus group discussions as this appeared to be a preferred approach over the remote mode for the majority of those who were contacted to be invited to take part. Participants were offered a choice of dates and times to ensure those who were working or had caring commitments were able to participate. Two focus groups took place in the morning during the office hours and two took place in the evening once the FSS provider's office was closed. No representative from the FSS provider was present at any of the focus group discussions. Each focus group lasted between 45-90 minutes. Participants were reimbursed for their travel expenses to and from the venue and each participant who attended was offered a £30 shopping e-voucher as a thank you for their time. All focus group were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim.


Transcripts from the focus group were analysed by a social researcher at the Scottish Government using thematic analysis and MS Word. The coded transcripts were checked by another social researcher for quality assurance purposes. The initial coding framework was prepared based on the key themes from the interview topic guide and was subsequently refined by adding additional categories (e.g. 'Impact of Covid-19') that emerged from the analyses of the focus group transcripts. Quotes presented in this report were selected to illustrate key themes that emerged from the analyses and to provide verbatim description of focus group discussions participants' views and experiences.

How to access background or source data

The data collected for this <statistical bulletin / social research publication>:

☒ may be made available on request, subject to consideration of legal and ethical factors. Please contact for further information.



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