Anisha and Louise share their experiences working on the Inspiring Futures evaluation project
Our Inspiring Futures grant programme was established, in partnership with BBC Children in Need, in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. It gave grants to organisations to make sure they were able to support marginalised young people through the pandemic. The success of the fund is being evaluated by Cordis Bright, an independent evaluator.
Authors: Louise Chandler and Anisha Rahman
We are members of the Youth Reference Group, a diverse group of 16–25-year-olds who are supporting Cordis Bright to understand whether these organisations have been successful in supporting young people. As part of our role, we use our own lived experience to identify and recognize the issues young people face. This is vital because it places young people’s experiences at the heart of shaping the evaluation process, combatting the system that disadvantages specific groups of young people. So far, our work with Cordis Bright has involved choosing evaluation methods, developing research questions and designing outputs.
During a workshop with Cordis Bright, we shared our unique perspectives on how best to deliver our evaluation. We highlighted the advantages of using a variety of different evaluative methods: workshops, interviews, and deep dives, ensuring we gain a detailed account on how the fund was utilised to improve services for young people – in a way that is valuable and engaging to those involved. We felt that workshops allow the opportunity for interactive engagement, whereas interviews may potentially feel less daunting and allow for more detailed conversations on a young person’s experience with their program. We emphasized the importance of creating a safe space by creating a rapport with the young people, so they feel more comfortable in sharing what worked well and would be better. This process must not be too structured, by incorporating various formats into the evaluative process and listening to the needs and achievements of young people who participated in the programme.
When learning from programmes, one of the questions we considered was: how did the pandemic impact children and young people’s motivation to access support? We are interested in knowing how the complicated structures around young people changed due to the pandemic and how that impacted their ability to access different types of support. It is vital to recognize young people do not just exist as individuals, but also how the complicated issues impact the rest of society including young people. The Association for Young People’s Health states, ‘children and young people have been less affected than other age groups by coronavirus infection itself but have been disproportionately impacted by the social educational and economic impacts of the pandemic.’1 Going forward, it is important to establish what helped young people during the pandemic and what could be improved to make services more accessible for young people.
One potential way we could share findings from the evaluation is through making videos; we can ask young people to talk about their experiences and the support they gained throughout the programme. But in order to accommodate such a delivery, we need to be skilled and knowledgeable in video editing. During the summer, we were given the opportunity to work towards a digital media and personal branding course, accredited by AQA. This was used to develop our understanding of personal branding and how to shoot and edit videos. We looked at the theoretical aspects of the course, including the different types of shots we can take and the equipment that will boost the quality of our video. We implemented this knowledge by creating and editing our own short video on how to make toast, so we feel confident and prepared to produce content as part of the Inspiring Futures evaluation.
We and the rest of the Youth Reference Group have really enjoyed working with Cordis Bright so far. We’re looking forward to discovering the impacts of the Inspiring Futures Programme and how we can harness best practice to ensure young people are well supported towards employment!