Earlier this month, we partnered with Street League to gather a group from across and beyond the youth sector, all with a keen interest in unpicking the relationship between accountability and transparency in impact measurement and reporting. We considered how (and to who) we should explain and take responsibility for our work, and the openness and completeness with which we should do this.
The group represented organisations who deliver a wide range of provision for young people, alongside researchers and data specialists. We aimed to explore and build upon Street League’s #callforclarity campaign, which has gathered momentum behind a positive, open approach to impact reporting: one that is well aligned to learning, and resists pressure to keep back ‘negative’ data or over-claim the impact of any one organisation’s work.
Many of the group shared concerns that it is rarely easy – or commonplace – to scrutinise, fully understand or, most importantly, learn from claims made about impact. We noted that accountability and learning are often presented as oppositional concepts but we wondered if they can in fact support one another, especially when we prioritise accountability to beneficiaries and local communities. However, the point was made that culture and incentives are the most likely to affect how data is produced and used, rather than tools and methodologies.
It was a vivid and wide-ranging discussion but we were keen that it was not limited to a one-off event with a small group of people.
We have distilled discussion points into the following suggested principles:
We wonder how these might work as a set of principles to bring together a movement in pursuit of more meaningful impact measurement, and are testing whether there’s appetite for ongoing discussion and action around them. What do you think? How do these principles resonate for you? How can we bring people together to progress thinking and practice in this area? Do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
The day was a reminder of the critical importance of creating open spaces for discussion and reflection – for sharing our own work, that of others, and learning from those we wouldn’t automatically work with day to day
The 11th September saw our third annual Gathering – and marked the third anniversary of the establishment of the Centre for Youth Impact. We took a critical and reflective view on where the youth sector is at with impact measurement, considering current practice, reflections on that practice, the effects of impact measurement practice on work with young people, and where we, collectively, think impact measurement efforts should focus next. A lot to get through in a day!
We were delighted that it was a coming together of friends old and new – a show of hands in the opening plenary suggested about half the attendees were Centre for Youth Impact old hats, and half were joining us for the first time. Between them, they represented a huge range of organisations from across the country and across all elements of the youth sector.
The diversity of our audience was mirrored in the diversity of our content: something that was really valued by delegates and that we will repeat at future open events.
We opened with a panel of our practitioner network leads, who openly and honestly shared stories of their shifting relationships with impact measurement, leading organisational change and leading change more broadly. This was followed by a keynote from Dan Gregory, who outlined many of the issues with impact measurement as currently carried out, including the proliferation of measures that have little real world meaning and the implications of a competitive ‘market’ for impact measurement ‘products’. Dan also shared some universal principles for meaningful impact measurement, reminding us that even when we are trying to convince people of the importance of impact measurement we should never lose our scepticism or humility about what impact measurement is and can achieve – and that those who don't show this are probably not to be trusted.
We finished with panels of funders and their reflections on current impact measurement practice, and of impact specialists unpicking current challenges in impact measurement and suggesting ways forward. Panelists highlighted the importance of practitioners becoming more data literate and able to distinguish useful impact measurement practices from bad; getting better at gathering precise and robust feedback data from participants – and even using this to predict outcomes, and ensuring that we’re using impact measurement to ask and answer the right questions.
All slides from the event can be viewed here – do take a look.
We’re processing the feedback at the moment and as previously, will report back on how we use it to inform future events. Upon initial reflection, the day was a reminder of the critical importance of creating open spaces for discussion and reflection – for sharing our own work, that of others, and learning from those we wouldn’t automatically work with day to day. Many delegates were grateful for the opportunity to step out of the day job and reflect critically through varying perspectives on what all this means. As always with this type of event, the burning question for many delegates was how they could put the content of the day into practice, and we remain keen to hear more about how we can support organisations on this journey.
So – a big thank for you to presenters and attendees for their energetic participation and commitment to making the day a success, and watch this space for follow-up blogs from speakers, more details on our current projects, and details of further national, regional and subject-specific events planned for the upcoming year.
By working with the cohort across the course of the funding to develop a shared evaluation framework we will be able to explore not only what aspects of service provision lead to the greatest impact – but why.
We are excited to be partnering with NPC to deliver the learning and impact strand of the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) in order to support grantees to understand and measure their impact.
The YIF is a £40 million investment by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Big Lottery Fund. It is supporting 86 open access youth providers over three years to deliver, expand and create high quality local youth provision. The Fund targets six regional clusters across England in East London, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Tees Valley and Sunderland, Bristol and Somerset and Eastern Counties.
We are delighted that the YIF has prioritised learning as part of the funding which will allow us to provide tailored support and capacity building training to grantees in order to embed impact evaluation sensitively and appropriately within ongoing youth work practice. The Fund will also allow us to test new methods of capturing footfall data, gaining user feedback, assessing/improving quality and developing high quality evidence around outcomes. Crucially, by working with the cohort across the course of the funding to develop a shared evaluation framework we will be able to explore not only what aspects of service provision lead to the greatest impact – but why.
We are in the process of setting up a dedicated YIF learning website where we will update you on our work. If you require more information in the meantime – please contact email@example.com
Partnership for Young London has teamed up with expert Colin Falconer of InspireChilli to facilitate three interactive workshops for organisations who want to develop and lead assets together. The workshops will introduce a common understanding of asset-based thinking; explore its potential in different contexts of practice and influence; and develop a shared knowledge and commitment for championing asset-based action in London.
2th October, 2pm-6pm
14th November, 2pm-6pm
12th December, 2pm-6pm
Partnership for Young London, Guildhall North Wing, London, EC2V 7HH
How can an asset-based approach contribute to a positive vision for young london? Join the Partnership for Young London in a series of three workshops over October to December to learn more. Asset-based approaches in the youth sector have gained an increased spotlight through Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Youth Fund, initiatives such as Foyer Federation’s TrustYouth, and the popular growth of social action. More than just a focus on working positively with individuals and communities, asset-based thinking can help us shape sustainable changes to the system by which our society and sector works with and for young people.
The sessions will be informative and collaborative, with a focus on leadership.
For further information, contact Zoe Nation on Zoe.Nation@cityoflondon.gov.uk
How to engage young people within youth work provision using sport and physical activity?
Youth Focus: North East (YFNE) in partnership with Sported is hosting a free Sector Connector workshop in Gateshead and Middlesbrough. The workshop will explore how youth work organisations can better engage with, and understand, the role of sport for their work with young people.
Monday, 25th September2017, 10am-1pm
Youth Focus: North East, Suite 6, New Century House, West Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HR
Book your place
Friday, 29th September2017, 10am-1pm
Youth Focus: North East, Craft Centre, 57 Gilkes Street, Middlesbrough, TS1 5EL
Book your place
Early booking is advisable as each workshop is limited to a maximum of 20 places. The workshop will enable participants to:
For further information contact Kevin Franks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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