The Amber Foundation

Key information

Independent evaluator organisation name(s)
Cordis Bright 

One-sentence summary of the project
Amber Foundation deliver supported accommodation for young people experiencing homelessness, with a full-time intensive employment and training programme embedded into the model. 

Number of participants

Information about participants
Amber Foundation supports homeless young people with complex needs aged 1630. In addition to being homeless, young people face a range of barriers such as prior convictions, alcohol or substance misuse and/or addiction, and mental health conditions. 

Total grant award money

Total evaluation award money

Duration of evaluation activities
2 years

Type of evaluation

Month/year evaluation activities were completed
April 2023

Project summary

Amber Foundation entered our ‘Development’ stream as a project supporting young people who are further from the labour market into positive EET outcomes. 

Amber Foundation work with highly marginalised young people experiencing homelessness often with additional complex needs such as substance misuse, experience of trauma and mental health conditions and disabilities. This group of young people experience significant labour market disadvantage and low education, employment and training (EET) outcomes. 

The study aimed to:   

  • Identify how the support model operates and the programme’s Theory of Change 
  • Support Amber to understand which elements of delivery work most effectively and why 
  • Support improvements to the programme and data collection processes, to build organisational capacity and assess the feasibility of further evaluation. 


Evaluation approach 

The evaluation included a process study to develop and test the Theory of Change, understand resident’s outcomes and identify any refinements which could be made to improve delivery.  

The mixed method evaluation drew on evidence from: 

  • monitoring and outcomes data  
  • qualitative research with 75 residents, 26 staff members and 14 external stakeholders 

The study also aimed to understand the feasibility of conducting an impact evaluation of the Amber Foundation programme. 

Evaluation conclusions

The study found several strengths of the Amber Foundation model including the staged model which addresses a broad range of needs in sequence, compassionate and skilled staff members and opportunities for residents to connect to their local communities.   

There were improvements recommended to improve the consistency of delivery across sites, enhanced staff training to support the broad range of resident needs and bolstering the follow-up support offer to improve the sustainment of housing and EET outcomes when the young people left the centres. The study also recommended data collection improvements to ensure that the measures align with the Theory of Change. 

The study found indicative evidence of improvements to the self-reported self-esteem and wellbeing of the young people being supported. It also found that a third of residents (33 per cent) left the centre and secured employment. However, during the study period, over half of residents (56 per cent) left the centres in an unplanned way, without completing the full programme of support.    

The study highlighted external factors such as the local availability of support services, suitable accommodation and EET opportunities are likely to shape young people’s ability to sustain positive outcomes.  

Additional resources

Future Evaluation Work 

YFF have commissioned a theory-based impact evaluation of the Amber Foundation programme (sometimes called “small ‘n’ impact evaluations”) which are well suited to understanding the impact of interventions in complex systems.  

The theory-based impact evaluation will explore the EET and housing outcomes achieved by residents, how the Amber programme contributes to these outcomes, and other conditions which support outcome achievement and sustainment.  

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