New Client; Durham Wildlife Trust

The Evaluator is delighted to work with a new partner, Durham Wildlife Trust, for their Green Recovery funded programme, Healing Nature.

Durham Wildlife Trust (their website is here) explains…

“Government funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund has enabled the Trust to form a Healing Nature project team, tasked with protecting and ecologically restoring important habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. The team includes three new full-time posts, three part-time posts and four trainees, recruited through the Kickstart programme. They will work alongside volunteers to restore the sites and create more resilient conditions for a rich variety of wildlife.

The work will include woodland management, pond restoration, grassland management, scrub clearance, and planting hedges. Healing Nature will also have a significant impact on communities, making sure residents are better connected to their local wildlife sites. This will include new paths, gates, and signage to make the sites more welcoming and easier to use.

Furthermore, the Trust will also arrange activities and events – both face to face and online – to encourage community groups, families, young people and local residents to get involved, as well as delivering educational sessions at schools.”

This is a slightly unusual evaluation, as we are working with another evaluator, Simon Lees, from Countryside Training Partnership (their website is here) who are doing the overall evaluation, and we are providing a series of quick turnabout practical feedback loops regarding the work they are doing with people. We are happy to work flexibly like this if it is what suits the client best. 

We’ll be figuring out what people are experiencing in the project activities, how its helping them connect to nature, what it is doing for wellbeing, and how they are hearing about it. Learning more about their audiences, means the trust can plan better programmes in future, and know what works, and what still needs a tweak. It’s all about making data-driven-decisions. It’s also all about people, and that’s the work that gets us excited! 

New Project with Existing Client; Jazz North

Jazz North use the tagline, ‘enriching lives through improvisation’ and aim to make the North a leading UK talent hub for Jazz. Their website is here.

Jazz North explain

“Our goal is to build a strong, sustainable, and diverse jazz sector in the north of England by working in partnership”

and they work to support artists, promoters and build future audiences. They are a Sector Support Organisation, funded by The Arts Council and are also a founder member of Black Lives in Music. The Black Lives in Music website is here.  

The Evaluator has worked with Jazz North in the past, to evaluate their flagship programme ‘northern line’ in 2018/19 and to evaluate their ‘jazz camp for girls’ project in 2019/20. In fact we were half way through that evaluation when the pandemic began, and it was one of the first ones we completed during lockdown. 

We love building relationships and working with clients on different projects over time. It’s a key part of our business, doing such a good job that people come back to us over and over again. We are still working with 3 out of 4 of our very first clients, despite how much we have grown and changed. It’s something we are very proud of! 

Now, in 2021, we are starting a longer term partnership with Jazz North, to help them tighten up their own data processes, and to support the annual arts council data return (which is quite a lot of information that the arts council ask for on an annual basis) but more importantly, to try and get to the heart of what it is Jazz North are achieving. We are talking about true evaluation, not just monitoring, where we look at impact and change, and use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to do this. 

We’ll be figuring out who is taking part, and who isn’t, what staff and board and promoters feel could be improved, how support for artists is making a difference and much much more. We’ll be working with the team to embed this data collection work and supporting the development of a reflective culture.