‘Noticing the Change’ – Putting the framework of outcomes into practice

Date: 19 March 2013

Today The Young Foundation publishes “Noticing the Change – a Framework of Outcomes for Young People in Practice” on behalf of the Catalyst consortium, a NCVYS co-ordinated partnership.

This new report documents the experience of three youth sector organisations in piloting an outcomes approach to their work. It makes recommendations for implementing this approach to all youth sector organisations and considers the wider implications for the sector as a whole.

In July 2012 the Catalyst consortium published a Framework of Outcomes for Young People, which makes the case for why social and emotional capabilities matter, and why funders, commissioners and investors should have more confidence in their value.

The team went on to work with three organisations, each seeking to develop an outcomes focus in their work with young people: Brathay Trust, the British Red Cross, and London Youth.

Key messages from the work were:

• The Framework of Outcomes provides a much needed common language for discussions about outcomes.

• An effective process meant getting outcomes right at all steps in the process. Many youth sector organisations are under pressure from funders and commissioners to provide evidence of their impact. As a result, there is a natural tendency to gravitate straight towards an approach to measurement and measurement tools. However, the work shows that without clarity over which outcomes to measure, attempts to measure are not likely to be fruitful.

• Organisations felt frustration that intrinsic outcomes are not recognised or valued by funders and commissioners as significant. Funders and commissioners need to be ready to accept the contribution these intrinsic, interim outcomes make towards their desired long term outcome for young people. We found that locating them in a ‘theory of change’ helped evidence their value.

• Organisations should make connections with each other to share learning. The more organisations work together to support an outcomes focus in the sector, the clearer the message will be to policy makers and funders about the impact of youth work for young people and for society as a whole.

Beth Parker, NCVYS Director of Service Development, said: “This has been a crucial piece of work for the whole of the youth sector. This report brilliantly pulls together how the framework can be used in practice, giving anyone working with young people the means to effectively demonstrate impact on their lives.”

Sam Grimstone from London Youth said “This approach shows why we get out of bed in the morning – to make a difference to young people. We all have anecdotal information, but this helps us do it in a more grown up way.”
Gill Allbutt from British Red Cross added “We are now better able to deliver, demonstrate and communicate the impact of our work.”

Laura Dosanjh, Director of Applied Innovation at The Young Foundation, added “This new work demonstrates the genuine commitment and enthusiasm of organisations to effect change. More work now needs to be done to understand how impact through different youth work settings can be evidenced”.


Notes to editors:

1. Contact: Alison Harvie on 07909 912 444 or alison.harvie@youngfoundation.org

2. We are The Young Foundation and we are determined to make positive social change happen. We pioneered the field of social innovation with The Open University, UpRising and Studio Schools. We work closely with individuals, communities and partners building relationships to ensure that our thinking does something, our actions matter and the changes we make together will continue to grow. (www.youngfoundation.org )

3. Catalyst is a consortium of four organisations working with the Department for Education (DfE) as the strategic partner for young people, as part of the Department’s wider transition programme for the sector. Catalyst are working to deliver three key objectives over a two year period. We are strengthening the youth sector market, equipping the sector to work in partnership with Government and coordinating a skills development strategy for the youth sector’s workforce.

4. “Noticing the Change” will be available to download from www.youngfoundation.org

5. About Brathay Trust : Brathay Trust are a National Youth Work Charity that were established in 1946. They provide residential and community based programmes for young people experiencing various disadvantages. They achieve change through the use of experiential learning and our model of youth development. They measure the impact of all their programmes with creative and participatory research tools and report impact annually as an organisation. www.brathay.org.uk

6. About the British Red Cross: The British Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that aims to equip people with the skills to cope in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. www.redcross.org.uk

7. About London Youth: London Youth is a network of over 400 diverse community youth organisations where young people choose to go. Their mission is to support and challenge young people to become the best they can be. www.londonyouth.org.uk