There are lots of reasons why we might evaluate the work we do with young people. But as Bethia McNeil, from the Centre for Youth Impact, highlights: the fundamental need is to advance our understanding of what creates positive change for young people, and critically – how, we can do more of it.
In ‘Impact - Whose game are we playing?, she looks at the wider context and issues around youth services and impact measurement, and how this debate might stand in the way of making a difference for young people, which is after all the main aim of youth work.
What can we do to ensure evaluation helps to improve practice, and ultimately, leads to better experiences for young people?
The Blagrave Trust, a young people-focused funder operating across Wiltshire, Hampshire and Berkshire (http://www.blagravetrust.org/), has published a really useful study on approaches to gathering feedback during work with young people. This can be a really important way of assessing the impact your work is having, and how you can adapt or improve to keep meeting young people’s needs. The study, along with a separate document containing eight case studies, is attached to this post.
- Think about the different needs of groups (young people; parents; carers) and individuals within those groups from whom you are seeking feedback. A one size fits all approach may not be suitable
- Think about the context in which feedback is sought. It’s important to consider the different ways in which participants could contribute feedback (eg/ through social media channels or games)
- Don’t ask too much! Limit what your survey is asking to the really key questions in order to encourage responses.
- Make sure the people you are asking know why they are being asked, and what they can expect as a result.