At space* we pride ourselves on quality youth work; we plan effectively, deliver with energy and evaluate thoroughly. We have staff who have been youth workers for 30+ years working alongside young and newly qualified Youth Workers, which gives us a dynamic skillset.
Each of our service areas has its own ‘Theory of Change’ and evaluation plan, which helps give clarity to staff and young people on the purpose of the work.
After all, we all need to know…
What is the point? What’s the purpose?
For youth work to be successful, young people need to be at the heart of all programmes and interventions, we tailor our activities and support to cater for all needs, and measure our impact using a variety of methods.
Transformative Evaluation: understanding the impact we have, and how
In 2017 we started to embed Transformative Evaluation onto our open access services so we could discover directly from young people what impact we made in their lives and then, in turn, reflect on why, and how, we think this happened.
The process is simple but effective. For example, we:
1. Collect stories from young people by asking one question “what has been the most significant change that has happened to you as a result of coming to our youth centre?
2. Youth workers meet to discuss, code and group the stories into themes.
3. We then choose the ‘most significant change’ story in each theme and share it with stakeholders to share our impact and also let them choose one overall ‘change story’ for that cycle,
4. Do more of the things that young people tell us work and they value, invest in developing those skills in our staff, volunteers and partners.
We have over 70 stories, which vary in quality, depth and reflection. These stories help us understand not only the impact that we make, but the processes through which we brought about the change (our methodology, setting and professional training for example) and better communicate this with stakeholders. We find it reinforcing that good youth work is planned, intentional and by design.
It also helps us transparently share our skills and methods because, as with most things, when something is done well, and naturally (as it needs to be for young people’s benefit) it often looks ‘easy’ to the layperson observing, giving the impression that the same outcomes can be reached with no emphasis on the professional nature of our service.
Below are a few examples (names have been changed).