Insights From the Data Trawl on Youth Voice Practice
Over the past few months, we have been hard at work analysing data submitted as part of the data trawl for the evaluation of the impact of youth voice within the #iwill Fund. This included a process of collating and coding evidence that was gathered from Match Funders and delivery partners within the Fund through our call to action. Once submissions closed in March 2022, we had received an impressive 325 data items.
All the items were coded against a framework that was developed through early scoping workshops with stakeholders, and with input from our Young Evaluators during our first residential in October 2021. 71 data items were not coded due to being duplicates or not relevant to the Fund. This resulted in a final data set of 254 items, representing 29 Match Funders and 42 youth social action programmes.
What have we learnt through the data trawl?
Through this evaluation, we are looking to explore the impact of youth voice within the #iwill Fund on young people, organisations, funders, and the wider communities within which this practice takes place. The evidence collected through the data trawl has given us a strong overview of the types of youth voice practice taking place within the #iwill Fund: for example, which groups of young people are participating and the types of activities they undertake.
We know that the #iwill Fund seeks in particular to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into youth social action – to narrow the participation gap that has long existed in youth social action. The data trawl shows that 77% of represented #iwill-funded programmes1 target young people from specific socio-demographic groups, with the most frequently targeted group being young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (20% of all programmes in the data set). The data also tells us that many #iwill-funded programmes support youth-led youth social action, in line with the six quality principles outlined by the #iwill movement. The most common type of activities to enable youth voice at programme level are young people’s advisory groups (25%), followed by young people co-designing/leading programme development (16%) and young people being involved as members of decision-making bodies (16%)
The data trawl has also generated evidence around the impact of youth voice practice. For young people, the data suggests that engaging in youth voice activities is mostly likely to impact on a young person’s social and emotional learning skills; specifically, ‘increased confidence in capabilities’ (31%) and ‘improved leadership skills’ (11%). The most commonly identified health and wellbeing outcome is ‘improved mental or physical wellbeing’ (55%). The latter is a particularly encouraging statistic given growing concerns about young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Community impact identified in the data relate to the development of healthier communities through ‘stronger relationships between young people and communities’ (29%) and ‘young people having an increased sense of belonging, responsibility, and ownership’ (27%). We received far less evidence of impact on organisations (funders and delivery partners), which is likely to be as a result of data collected by Match Funders and delivery partners focusing on the ‘double benefit’ - the impact of youth social action on young people and the communities, as opposed to on the organisations delivering or funding this work.
In addition to a limited focus on organisational experience and impact, the data trawl also lacked insight into the views and experiences from the youth organisations in receipt of #iwill funding – most submissions came from Match Funders. The data submitted was also not originally gathered to inform this evaluation: it was all secondary data. Therefore, the focus of data items was often on youth social action more broadly, as opposed to youth voice practice or impact within youth social action delivery.
What happens now?
We have drawn together the evidence generated through the data trawl, and considered it against:
The evaluation questions and overall evaluation framework, developed with young people through the project inception and scoping phases;
Research questions generated by the young evaluators at residential three (which took place in April 2022); and
The limitations identified (and noted above) in the data set.
Through this process we have generated a further set of research questions to guide the second round of data collection. This is the social inquiry phase, where our Young Evaluators Panel are conducting interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders to gather further evidence around the impact of youth voice practice in the #iwill Fund. The aim of this second phase is fill gaps in the current data set and further explore interesting or novel findings.
The key research questions guiding the social inquiry are:
How have young people practically and emotionally experienced youth voice activities within #iwill?
To what extent do organisations involved in the #iwill Fund understand what is needed to deliver youth voice activities well?
In what ways is change seen and experienced as a result of youth voice activity in the #iwill Fund?
We are now deep in the social inquiry, and it is exciting to see the Young Evaluators take centre stage in this project. We will be coming together at the end of August 2022 to analyse the data we’ve collected and integrate it with the learning from the data trawl. We will then share our data with an Advisory Panel (a group of individuals with expertise in youth voice) to assess its quality and credibility. Finally, we will disseminate learning to stakeholders at our Outcomes Summit in November 2022, so watch this space!