Linking what you do, to what funders want

CWVYS has been working on an outcomes approach and has produced a series of proposals for the Welsh Government with the full support of Youth Work Alliance Wales.

The paper, Towards an outcomes and impact approach for the youth sector in Wales (copy available here) draws on the work and experience of a number of bodies including the Young Foundation.

It emphasises the need for an approach which takes into account the experience of voluntary youth organisations, is straightforward in operation and supports rather than detracts from their work.

Outcomes and the National Youth Work Strategy for Wales

yth eyst 1

The new strategy includes the introduction of a National Outcomes Framework for youth work, providing a sound basis for accountability, benchmarking and results. So now is a good time to get better acquainted with the principles. A copy of the National Youth Work Strategy for Wales can be found here
CWVYS will continue to develop its work on outcomes and keep you updated with this area of development.

Workshops organised jointly by WISERD and CWVYS in May 2018 sought to re-start a Welsh national discussion regarding evaluation, impact and outcomes in youth work in Wales.

The Executive Summary report (Evaluation, Impact and Outcomes – What does it mean for us FINAL REPORT) gathers the data from these workshops and highlights key things like:

Trends experienced in youth work in Wales reflect other areas of public policy, including an emphasis on evidence-based policy and a greater reliance on quantitative indicators to measure impact.

The report outlines the Theory of Change framework and the Most Significant Change method presented at the workshop as potential tools to strengthen evaluation processes.

The report concludes by outlining key questions that can guide a way forward in developing a ‘Wales approach’ to evaluation and impact. Doing so is associated in particular with developing mechanisms and schemes to support organisations to strengthen how they demonstrate the impact of the sector in Wales; learning from current good practice; expanding discussions with funders; and the potential role of sectoral representative bodies in establishing a consensus around good practice and practical arrangements to strengthen the validity and quality of organisations’ data and evaluation processes; and how the HE sector in Wales can support this work.

You can find slide presentations from the workshops here;

Director of the Centre for Youth Impact Bethia McNeil’s presentation; Centre for Youth Impact May 2018 – CWVYS presentation

Professor Rhys Jones of Aberystwyth University’s presentation; Rhys Jones – Gwerthuso Gwell Better Evaluation

If we don’t measure

  • We can’t be sure what works
  • We can’t identify what doesn’t work
  • It is difficult to prove we are good at what we do
  • Money may be invested in the wrong things or not at all

Here are some tips on how youth work organisations can show how they make a difference to the lives of young people in a way the funders can understand and link to bigger social objectives.

Tips of good measurement

  1. Identify your goal – The goal/target must be clear, understood, realistic but ambitious, defined and succinct. It may have been identified by you or defined by the funder/commissioner

Increase the number of  young people continuing education

  1. What needs to happen for this to be achieved? – Think of the last change that needs to happen before reaching the ultimate goal –what are the most immediate preconditions?

The young person needs to develop their capability in resilience, emotional intelligence, personal goal setting, increased self-belief to be successful in education

  1. Aligning activities with outcomes – What do you do/need to do to achieve the outcomes set out? Which of your activities develop these capabilities?

Playing sport increases resilience, team activities increase self- belief and emotional intelligence, outward bound activities increase aspirations

  1. What else is needed? – Does this approach make sense? What are you assuming is in place? Is there anything that you are taking for granted. What other complementary activities do you offer?

Substance misuse referral, childcare, counselling, coaching

  1. What do we want to measure? – What outcomes should be measured? They must be measurable (by you), defined, controllable and unique to your work. Measure the change you make

Improved emotional intelligence, resilience, self-belief

What else is worth knowing?

How do we measure?

  • Pre and post measurement is critical
  • You can use self-assessment questionnaires, 1:1 interviews, focus groups, graffiti walls, observations…
  • A wide variety of tools specifically designed for youth work can be found here Matrix and tools

How do we describe what we do?

yth filter 1

The Young Foundation conducted extensive research to identify and describe the outcomes of youth work as 7 clusters of capabilities, and linked evidence of their impact on social outcomes. More, very useful information can be found here, or by request from CWVYS.

Capability Clusters example :

communication – Research from the University of Sheffield  suggests that good communication is essential for a successful transition to work or training, for independence and to access a range of life opportunities. Both the Rose Review and Bercow Report highlighted the role of communication in attainment, and forming positive relationships. Improved communication skills have also been linked to reductions in reoffending”

Similar evidence exists for the other clusters

  • confidence and agency
  • planning and problem solving
  • relationships and leadership
  • creativity
  • resilience and determination
  • managing feelings

More information is available to help to articulate how your work benefits young people, the community and society. If you would like to know more please see the list of resources below or contact CWVYS.

Useful resources

Towards an outcomes and impact approach for the youth sector in Wales -Full document can be found here
The Centre for Youth Impact aim to work in collaboration with others to test, learn and build momentum behind the impact agenda, across organisations working with young people.  -Framework of outcomes for young people, Matrix of Tools, evidence base – A searchable library of published research and project materials