JOQ 100 - looking back, looking forward
We kicked off the #justonequestion survey in May 2020, to understand and amplify the experiences and priorities of those working with young people in the UK. The dedicated platform allows registered users to respond quickly and receive immediate feedback on how others have answered.
Since then, youth practitioners have responded to 100 weekly questions covering a broad range of areas: from the Covid-19 response, and the evolution of digital delivery, to workforce training and development, learning and quality improvement, and aspirations for the sector. We’ve also covered topics focused on the young people at the heart of our work; loneliness, youth voice and listening practices, ‘the power of youth’ and social action, and opportunities for young people to get involved with research and evaluation. There’s been a lot more beyond that - you can see all past surveys and responses here.
A year after the launch, in May 2021, we also teamed up with UK Youth to explore how, together, we might extend the reach and build better insight from Just One Question. As we hit 100 surveys, we’re now taking a moment to reflect on what we’ve learnt together, and where we go next.
Choose two words
We’ve repeated one question over the past two years, specifically focused on the practitioner experience. We’ve asked respondents to ‘Choose two words to describe how you’re feeling about your work with young people right now’ - with response options always including the same six words shown on the graph below:
Here are some headline reflections from this series:
‘Frustrated’, ‘motivated’, and ‘excited’ were the most consistently selected across all six surveys
Nervousness peaked in the earlier days of the pandemic (July and September 2020) and then again in December 2021, as we anticipated another potential lockdown following the festive season
We can also see frustration dropping in the summer months of July 2021 and June 2022 – perhaps as a more ‘open’ society provided greater options both in and out of work
A greater percentage of respondents indicated that they are feeling excited about their work in June 2022 – the first time in a while that this has risen significantly.
This is a key question for us as we think about how we move forward with Just One Question. The responses above – and many others – provide an important reminder about the wider context for working in the youth sector. There are all sorts of reasons why we think this is important – not least because as a sector, we have a duty of care to protect the wellbeing of peers and colleagues, but also because the experiences of the young people that the sector supports, and the quality of the provision that they access, is influenced by this wider context.
At the Centre and UK Youth, we’ve also used insights to guide our project work, ensure we are considering wider context when making decisions, and when thinking about our broader support offer through training and capacity building opportunities. What would it take to harness and make use of these insights more broadly?
Those who participate in the survey have also made frequent use of the comment box, sharing deeper perspectives on topics such as funding, a lack of workforce diversity and representation, and the realities of daily work in the sector. On the flip side, we’ve also had feedback that there aren’t enough option choices, or that the question is too complex to answer with a few responses and a comment. Is there a better channel for sharing these perspectives?
We still believe that providing a platform for quick and responsive perspective sharing has value, but we want to maximise that value and ensure that Just One Question – in this form or another – is serving the sector as best as possible. For this reason, we are pausing the regular survey over the summer months to circulate a short consultation and hold a series of discussions with practitioners across our networks, to better understand what might motivate or prevent someone from taking part in a regular insight building initiative. We would love it if you could add your voice to this consultation – you can find Just Six (short!) Questions here.