Ethical and Safety Considerations

Interacting, working and forming a friendship with street people can be difficult. Many shut themselves off from anyone who approaches them, because they are usually ignored by others or perceived as a problem to society instead of as human beings. The Canterbury Street Lot team had to be very understanding about the street people’s personal boundaries. In order to develop a good relationship with members of the street community and ensure our own safety, we created and followed these guidelines:


  1. All interviews were conducted in a confidential manner, focusing on the individual’s comfort and well-being.
  2. Interviewees were informed about the project and conversation’s nature before they were asked for consent, and consent was obtained prior to beginning any personal conversations or interviews.
  3. All individuals were informed about their right to stop the interview or conversation at any point, skip questions or topics, and change their mind about which information they allowed the team to disclose.
  4. Questions asked by the team varied with individuals’ answers in order to keep a safe and comfortable environment at all times. Questions focused on project development and improvements to the lot, rather than on seeking personal information. When personal information was volunteered in the course of conversation, we treated it with sensitivity and confidentiality.
  5. Interactions and interviews strictly abided by the “Code of Ethics” (listed below) created by the team.
  6. All work intended for public dissemination was revised and approved by sponsor, co-developers and advisors prior to publication.

By following these guidelines, the team was better able to approach the street people who live in the Canterbury Street Lot and its surroundings without making them uncomfortable or worried about their safety and privacy. We have employed ethnographic techniques of key informants, unstructured interviews, and observations with individuals living and working at the parking lot to obtain an understanding of its daily dynamics and the challenges those who live in the area face. We also used informal questionnaires to gain insight on the perceptions those who park in the area have of the lot and those who live on it.


In order to ensure that both the individuals and their identities were protected and always respected, the group established and followed the subsequent Code of Ethics:


  1. Preserve and enforce individual’s wishes regarding participation and anonymity at all times.
  2. Keep all information anonymous upon the wish of the individuals, including name, age, sex, past experiences or any other form of information that could possibly be used to identify one’s identity, including pictures.
  3. Respect the individual’s wish to skip, stop or end the interview or conversation at any point and give them the control over what is shared with the team and with people outside the project.
  4. Show empathy to the stories, experiences, traumas and information shared by showing support and never discouraging or scorning attitudes that may differ from our own.
  5. Value and respect people’s opinions, property and sense of ownership, personal space and comfort zone, feelings and emotions, personal boundaries and behaviours (e.g. drug and alcohol abuse) above all.
  6. Be considerate of the differences between the collaborators and the team and never discriminate, criticize or judge their decisions or try to implement the team’s opinion upon them.
  7. Recognize the importance of and respect people’s religion, culture, beliefs and behaviors.
  8. Keep an open and honest relationship and communication with everyone by promoting a comfortable and approachable environment, focusing on the truth and avoiding lies and misconceptions.
  9. Ensure individual’s physical, mental and emotional well-being throughout the study and be attentive to any behaviour that may portray otherwise.
  10. Maintain a professional relationship and everyone’s personal integrity at all times.
  11. Stay in constant discussion with Khulisa Social Solutions, Service Dining Rooms and project advisors about ethical issues throughout the project.
  12. Ensure Khulisa Social Solutions, Service Dining Rooms, project advisors and co-developers review all work intended for public dissemination prior to its publication.

Although no formal interview was conducted, the team extensively used both the project guidelines and the Code of Ethics to promote and nurture both a professional and personal relationship with the street people who live on the Canterbury Street Lot. In the end, the team reassured that we had permission to disclose all the information and pictures shared in this website.