Director’s Blog: Why we are more resilient than we think we are?

Hello,

My name is Kirsty, the Founder and Director of The Evaluator. Occasionally I write a Director’s blog to include general thoughts and interesting pieces of information that we are currently working on.

Presently, I am working on trying to come up with a solution for measuring how our clients have adapted to Covid-19. It has brought so many changes to our world. As a team, we have been carrying out quite a lot of research with people, everyday wellbeing was something we measured at the start of lockdown, and recently we have been carrying out quite a lot of online research into how organisations have helped their participants during lockdowns of all alerts/levels/tiers. I think we have found the personal view, but are lacking the more professional view, so I want to make sure we work out an easy way to do this and then apply that as widely as possible.

I started with some research, and I think the ultimate skill we are discussing is resilience. The ability to ‘try, try again’. But what is resilience and how can we measure it? We have in the past developed our own resilience scale.

Here is an extract from a blog post first published in 2017:

Resilience is a skill, we know that instinctively but how do you say for sure if someone is more resilient than another? What if they become more resilient? How do you prove it? 

There is no easily comparable tool that many people use, there are a number of resilience scales but these tend to be used in a clinical setting and are not suitable for every project. I have therefore, developed my own resilience scale, which shows what the individual believes to be their own skill-set.

I have based this on the ten ways to be more resilient as defined by Liggy Webb – the United Nations adviser on resilience; author of the book ‘Resilience’ and international keynote speaker on how to be more resilient. The ten skills are; take a journey of self-discovery, optimism, emotional control, change for the better, coping well with conflict, embracing opportunities, looking after yourself, making positive connections, keeping going and having a vision. I have reworked these skills into a scale which participants can rate themselves and also a set of skills that project staff can assess. 

Participants are to answer how often they feel like this, over the last two weeks:

  • I know myself well, and can describe my strengths and weaknesses
  • I cope well with change
  • I cope well with conflict and/ or arguments
  • I feel like I can say yes to opportunities
  • I put myself first, so I can look after others better
  • I have been socialising recently
  • I am able to make plans and stick to those plans
  • I believe that life will improve in the future, I feel optimistic about the future
  • I have coped well with making decisions
  • I feel that I can cope well with stressful situations

Assigning each answer with a number, means we can measure how resilient a person is, at a particular moment in time. We can ask them again, every quarter and track their movements. We can find out what happened to make them more resilient, and what happened in their lives to make them become less resilient. In short, we can show impact numerically. 

We have used the above scale in a number of different evaluations and it has worked well. This year however we need something additional. We have been thinking about what resilience means when it is across a team, or collective, and what it means during a global pandemic. We came across a great article:-

Collective Resilience by The Collective Psychology Project – this has lots of relevance to many of the organisations we are working with. Here are some of the main points:

“There are three different layers to the crisis all playing out simultaneously: a public health emergency, an economic disaster, and a social and cultural crisis”

“22% (of adults) were engaging more with arts during lockdown”

“In the UK, 64% of adults felt that their communities had ‘come together to help each other’ during the crisis”

“63% of people felt more connected to nature during lockdown”

These are all positive outcomes to arise. However it is not all good news…

“health workers and Covid patients have faced high levels of trauma”

“we become more prone to conspiracy theories or extremist views when we feel threatened”

We should retain hope:

“Covid-19 has also shone a light on another, more hopeful story; one about how ordinary people, often led by the young, are finding new ways to cope and thrive, even in hugely challenging organisations”

“What’s more, there is evidence, from previous epidemics (like SARS), as well as other kinds of emergencies, that people in crises don’t just find ways to cope with negative mental health impacts, but also report positive effects, such as greater sense of community, meaning and spirituality – sometimes summed up in the term ‘post traumatic growth”

You can read the whole article here.

To conclude, we are going to mull over these terms – and figure out how to positively word some research into organisational post-traumatic growth for organisations.

Thanks for reading,

Kirsty

72 Seasons; The Agreed 18 Seasons of Spring

In 2020, for the project 72 Seasons, we are working with a group of volunteers – our seasonal seekers – to rename the year in nature. Every 4 or 5 days we start a new season. Our seekers are helping us to notice the changes in nature. Throughout they project they complete health and wellbeing surveys as we monitor the changes that they feel as they move closer to nature.

Our ultimate goal is to have an agreed list of 72 Seasons which are easily noticed, things you can see even if you don’t have a garden or are able to go for long walks or reach the wilder spots. We are running this project in the area around Pendle Hill and it will be a Lancashire-specific, or possibly North-West-specific, list of seasons when complete. We also hope it will have been fun for people to take part in. We had planned to do some of the work purely online and some in person. The in-person elements have been postponed but the online only has positively thrived.

Here is a blog post all about how Spring went. We did this for Winter previously and there is a link to that post here, in case you prefer to read in order.

 

If you have just read all about the changes in Winter, you’ll have noticed that people started to keep an eye out for previous seasons. Well, the magnolia crept into this season…

Pictures by Tammie, Ellen and Helen, who were delighted to find the magnolia blooms.

I do really like the way people take on noticing the ‘season’, it becomes personal to find it. I even find myself looking at my list as I go for a walk and thinking about what I might be able to notice in advance and what might be taking its time. You cannot rush nature, it does its own thing, and you have very little control in general. I think that is the comfort of the project. Most of the seasons chosen are mostly free from too much person-interference, and the changes are designed to put you in the bigger natural world.

We never could have predicted that this project around noticing nature and wellbeing would have such a turbulent year to follow. It almost feels unreal that in 2020 we happened to carry out a year-long nature project that people can take part in from home. As a researcher you cannot get much luckier than measuring wellbeing with a group of people both before and during Covid and hopefully continuing as we come out of Covid. We have measured wellbeing and health in detail during the most impactful year, with dramatic changes in life and huge effects on wellbeing. We have been there, live, measuring away and running the project, mostly just as planned.  It is also crucial to note that nature almost feels like the only silver lining of Covid; our rivers cleared up, the skies were free of aeroplanes, and traffic was almost silent. Looking at Spring happening, quite normally, while the whole world around us changed beyond all recognition, was a source of comfort for me and for many others taking part in the project.

“This year with lockdown I somehow feel even more aware of nature and how it is thriving and blossoming without us – almost as if it is benefiting from our absence. Quite humbling.”

“I don’t know if it’s what we are going through at the moment but I’m noticing the different trees and how they open up and the different time trees open up… the glorious different green colours in the trees. I’ve noticed the blossom and spring flowers and been sending photos to my mum as she has missed seeing all the spring flowers while out and about. It makes me realise what we take for granted usually and is opening my eyes to the wonder around the beautiful part of Lancashire I am so fortunate to live in and be able to see while in lockdown.”

“Really enjoying taking part. It’s particularly good to focus on nature during these weird times.”

Season: 31 March – 4 April; Daffodils Dance in the Breeze

 

Pamela took the left photograph on 9 April and Veronica took the photograph on 31 March

This was a new season – one we created based on what people noticed, as our original estimate of ‘Thunder Raises its Voice’ proved wrong. We do replace quite a few seasons. ‘Kirsty Daffodil’ is a nickname of mine. I resisted using daffodils as I thought it was a bit too much about me! The daffodils won through though. I suppose it wouldn’t be a British spring without them.

And the seasons were already starting to blur! Proving that the seasons do “march on without us” as one seeker said. There was a real feeling of excitement as Spring, sprung!

Jackie took this wonderful image of redcurrants flowering with Pendle Hill peeping through in the background, Sue took the photograph of Solomon’s Seal springing up among the daffodils and then a different Sue shared a collage of Spring flowers.

Season: 5 – 9 April; The Swallows Arrive.

As I write this post, the season is ‘The Swallows Leave’ and their time with us is brief, approximately five months – When they arrive, they chatter, they raise one or two broods of young, and then they go. They know how to make an entrance, and how to keep us keen! The shapes of them flitting and swooping over the canal, has brought me much happiness this year – consternation also, as I try to remember which is a swift (all black) and which is a swallow (white, below).

Caroline managed to get a photograph of a swallow on 12 April. They are so fast it can be hard to catch on camera.

Season: 10 – 14 April; Yellow Forsythia Gleams

 

The first image here was taken by Marian on 9 April and the second by Veronica on 31 March.

Our Facebook group of seasonal seekers continue to learn together. I send out longer emails explaining the seasons and do try and research and share interesting snippets. In that way people can choose how involved they want to get.

One seasonal seeker, Deborah mentioned “The garden smells wonderful after last night’s rain and the hellebores are at their best at the moment. This smell is ‘Petrichor’ (thanks Kirsty Rose Parker, hadn’t heard this word before so I looked it up) it’s the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning “stone”, and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.”

It is wonderful to get feedback on how people are using the information and learning more.

People started to share the parts of spring that meant something to them…

On 10 April our spring seekers were on fire! Anita found a butterfly – Sally shared this blossom she found and Sue found a horse chestnut tree starting to grow its flowers.

Not all of the group were out and about as – some people were shielding at home at this point. People started to share more paths, and larger views, for the people who were not getting out so much – a series of virtual walks and paths, organically created within the group.

Chelle shared this Spring View on 13 April, Sue shared an ‘Into a Silver Birch Wood’ on 10 April and Judith shared this Early Morning View of Pendle’ on 11 April. Note the magnolia, creeping into shot there, almost stealing the limelight. I noticed that people were echoing our style of describing the seasons, and making it their own.

In this project we aim to try and engage the senses – sometimes we ask people to touch – or feel the breeze. It is not all about just looking. In April, the scents of the season were also being noticed.

Sue found a carpet of wild garlic on 15 April, Deborah shared garden smells on 11 April and Sue shared a blossom photograph on 15 April.

Season: 15 – 19 April; Lambs Jump in Green Fields.

It’s an iconic image of Spring, and particularly so in our neck of the woods. Lambing time and spotting the first lambs of Spring simply had to be included. We wanted to be a bit more specific and asked people to notice the lambs jumping and being playful if possible and to take a moment to notice the green of the grass and to watch them play. Lamb pictures were popular!

Photographs by Anita on 19 April, Yvonne on 18 April, Sue on 18 April, Sally took a picture of Barnoldswicks famous rainbow sheep, Marian took a picture of these zworbeles sheep on 17 April.

Two further pictures of lambs, both by Sally.

Just a note of explanation on the famous rainbow sheep – I live in Barnoldswick and this was in the height of lockdown, so people could only go for a walk. Most people tried to go out everyday and sometimes we would see friends on the street and stop for glorious five-minute chats across the street or path. Whoever would have predicted how beautiful those moments of connection were and how vital they felt. We actually went for a few family walks to go and find the rainbow sheep after a friend of ours had shouted across the street that was what they were doing. The rainbow sheep had become a local tourist attraction and celebrity. It felt like everyday there was a picture of it shared on social media. The rainbow was the symbol of supporting the NHS, along with clapping every Thursday at 8pm on the doorstep. I have a 4 year old who enjoyed trying to spot the rainbows. I was working throughout lockdown, as my role transferred easily to working from home, but during this hot and sunny spring we would often try and go for a walk about 3.30 or 4 pm, in time to be home to watch the briefing. Writing about that feels a little surreal now. It feels like an awfully long time ago and a whole different time and routine already.

Season: 20 – 24 April; The Tulip Blooms

Sometimes we really get a season right and this was one of them. It just worked perfectly.

Photographs by Sue on 20 April, Christine on 20 April, Ann and Sue on the 21 April

 

Photographs by Pamela on 24, Michelle on 22, Carol on 23, Jackie on 21 and Sam on 21 April too.

Season: 25 – 29 April; Bluebells Carpet the Woods

Photographs by Stella – she took this shot on 25 April, and Janet took the left one on 29 and Caroline found this bluebell carpet on 5 May.

Most years recently I have been to visit the Bluebell woods, but this year it wasn’t possible for me or for many other people to do so. I did feel very grateful for being able to walk to lots of lovely nature spots, and this reminded me that not all of us were even able to do that. It also helped me understand more about how the individuals who were shielding enjoyed the pictures of the wilder areas. The Bluebells do make a lovely carpet!

The English and Spanish Bluebell Identification Quest was strong in our Facebook group. Spanish bluebells are invasive in our country and out-compete the more delicate, stronger smelling (in a good way) English bluebell. They can be tricky to tell apart and our seasonal seekers were keen to learn the differences and to find the rarer English bluebells.

Here are some Spanish ones;

Photographs by Michelle on 25 April, Kath on 24, Sam on 6 May (we kept the debate going a fair while!) and Kath on 9 May.

 

Here are some English ones, they are a bit harder to find:-

Photographs by Sam – who took the first two photographs on 6 May, – Cathy also found this patch on 6 May, – Georgie took this close up on 26 April and Leanne found this clump on 7 May.

The flowers are longer and thinner, and there are usually less of them. They are not as vigorous as the Spanish ones.

Season: 30 April – 4 May; Trees Turn Green Again

This season really brought out the photographs and people started to share more images. I wonder if it’s because trees from a distance are particularly photogenic?

Photographs by Sarah took this picture of green trees on 2 May, Leanne’s ‘Silver Birch Found Its Leaves Again’ on 4 May and Sam took this atmospheric shot of green leaves on 2 May. The last photograph is Jill’s woodland on 6 May.

At this point we also had a discussion about the Oak and Ash trees and the old saying about them. ‘If the oak should bloom before the ash then the world will have a splash, if the ash should bloom before the oak then the world will have a soak.’

Sue took this image of a bare ash on 3 May. “The ash looks to be the last one to bloom and we’ve already had our soak!” explained Sue.
I just wanted to mention Sue’s dedication here, she shares regularly and is an active part of our Facebook group.
Here is Sue’s before and after trees! “My husband is getting fed up walking with me as I take so long looking at everything and taking photos!” she explained. Sorry to Sue’s husband, but we are very pleased! That’s exactly what we hoped would happen during this project.
During this time; the group took us on a virtual walk…
 
Down Anita’s road, stopping by Caroline’s Spring Bank, through Sarah’s woodland entrance, to Jill’s deep woodland, noticing Sue’s fruiting Lichen and just enough time to watch Liz’s geese and their baby goslings before making a wish and watching Georgie’s sunset.
Frog digressions
Cathy shared this photograph on 9 May, and Judith shared this one on 7 May.
I love it when the group go off on one of their own interests – like poo detectives (which I am happy to encourage, but do not want to share pictures of poo here – spoiler alert – they were mostly fox or hedgehog!) It means they are connecting more, and this was important at this time.
Frogs were popular. People would talk about them. “We’ve had two dead ones this year. The first seemed fearless whenever we went near the pond and just kept sitting there, then found it dead in the pond a few days later. The other was just sat on the path!” from Michelle. John was also concerned “I’ve just seen my first tadpoles – incredibly late – and in a bit of water which will dry up soon so they’ll probably die. The lake they normally breed in is already totally dry so none there.” he explained.
Frogs however did gift me one of my favourite photos from Spring!
Janice on 8 May – gold star! This frog looks like the most content frog ever, so clearly some are thriving somewhere.

Season: 5 – 9 May; Wisteria Cascades.

Anita shared this wonderful Wisteria on 11 May. We chose items for the seasons that could hopefully be fairly easily seen, items that most people might be able to spot. We think at least one house in most towns has a Wisteria and they are often at the front. Is that correct? Also, we only keep the seasons that more than 50% of our seekers have agreed and found. If it doesn’t make the magic 50% it is replaced. Some make it with 100% agreeing and others are trickier.

One seeker did say:

“I’m intrigued as to how the various seasons are chosen, which flora and fauna are selected and why some prominent ones left out?”

I’ll try and answer that here. We try and match as many of the original Japanese 72 seasons as we can – although that’s probably only a third of the seasons, and then we have to tweak them. There are bears and exotic plants in Japan. They grow rice and lots of other differences, that cannot translate to Pendle and the area around Pendle Hill. One of my passions, is about making sure that people are included. My professional background includes working with vulnerable adults, and I always want my projects to be open to as many people as possible. It was very important to me, and the whole Pendle Hill team, that you did not have to have a garden, or be well enough to climb Pendle Hill to be able to take part. We want to measure wellbeing across lots of people. I also wanted to see if the project could have an online component so that people who worked full time or worked shifts, or were carers or parents of young children could still take part. Those factors meant we have tried to select the parts of nature that are easy to spot from pavements. When writing them I often thought ‘could I see this on a walk to the bus stop, could I see it in a garden I walk past?’ So, it’s actually about including people rather than prominent nature. We never knew how important that online component would become. We do still hope to be able to complete some face-to-face elements of the project, hopefully in 2021.

Season: 10 – 14 May; Blossom Petals Scatter the Ground.

The images throughout the project by Cath Ford are all wonderful, but the ones with shoes feel particularly noticeable to me. As soon as I see these shoes, I feel like I am looking down at Cath’s feet! If you want to know more about Cath’s work, her website is here. 

Few blossom images were shared in this season – Some seasons really pop and some don’t. That’s the nature of an experimental project like this one. No matter how much people enjoy the seasons, people have other things going on, or they struggle to sustain the same level of enthusiasm all year around. However one of our seekers shared these heart shaped petals, on 1 May.

Season: 15 – 20 May; Birdsong Fills the Sky

This season is new, we actually moved a few seasons around – some were a bit early, some a little late, and others just didn’t work as well as we had planned. When that happens and we need a new one, we read all the comments carefully to see what stands out.

One seeker told us:

“The seasons are spread out much more- start earlier. I am really enjoying the project. I look forward to looking at the posts and appreciate the range of followers, ranging from the experts who know or research all the names, people who are comfortable to ask questions and me who gets easily confused regarding the season we’re supposed to be in, not great with Facebook and still comfortable. It’s wonderful to join with others who appreciate nature, it’s colours, textures…”

And another said:

“Noticed lots of birds have nests and chicks. We have blue tits, coal tits, blackbirds, goldfinches, sparrows.”

And another said:

“I enjoy participating. I have seen baby goslings and baby moorhens on the river. Swifts and swallows and house martinis during the day and plenty of bats at night”

Which all combined to give us the confidence to move the seasons, and to decide on birdsong as the defining season here.

Season: 21 – 25 May. The Lilac Flowers.

Did you know that Lilac in flower on 25 May has been immortalised in literature?

The People’s Revolution of the Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May is depicted in Terry Pratchett’s, ‘Night Watch’, which has a similar story to Les Miserables. Survivors of the revolution are said to wear lilac, each year on 25 May to commemorate their survival. Following Terry Pratchett’s announcement that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, fans called for 25 May to become ‘Wear Lilac’ day in support (now memorial) of Pratchett and to raise awareness of the illness and to raise vital funds for the Alzheimer’s Society UK.

As a Terry Pratchett fan myself, I had always wanted to include The Glorious Twenty-Fifth and was delighted that this season worked out so well! Also, Night Watch is a wonderful book. Well worth a read.

Photographs by; Stella on 17 May, Cathy on 21 May and two photographs of White Lilac by Sue on 22 May.

Photographs by; Kath on 22 May – Sam, Michelle and John, all on 21 May.

Photograph by Michelle, “look what the wind brought on 22 May.” Lilac was another win!

 

Season: 26 – 30 May; Cow Parsley Lines the Hedgerows

One of the really nice parts of the project is that people can take part in lots of different ways. Some are really knowledgeable about nature and some are new to lots of the seasons. That is one of the special parts of nature, it doesn’t judge and does welcome everyone.

One seeker told us:

“I’m not sure what cow parsley looks like! I’ll check on the internet.”

And another said:

“The project is educating me all the time”

Sally took this photograph on 26 May and John took this on 29 May. Then Sally found a whole swathe of cow parsley on 28 May.

 

A few other shares – we do seem to love trees as a group!

Tim shared a ‘Sunrise Through the Old Oak Tree’ on 26 May, Sally shared this beautifully framed image on 12 May, Marian shared this Hawthorn blossom on 11 May and Jill was back sharing the woods again on 31 May.

Season: 31 May – 5 June; The Elder Flowers.

We often see elders on the paths, and public parks, and along the canal locally. They are pretty hardy and seem to thrive in a range of places. Due to their flowers being quite distinctive, they are a good one to ‘spot’. And ‘spot’ people did!

Photographs by; Sally took this on 31 May – Sam took this one on 4 June – Tim found these on 4 June and Cathy found this on 31 May

Photographs by; Caroline found this on 5 June and Michelle found these frothy ones on 5 June.

The elder also lasted really well this year.

Caroline took this gorgeous picture of an elder still flowering 13 June and John found this on 4 June.

As I write this part of the post, (it takes me a long time to do a whole season story!) the season is about Elderberries. We have come part way in the cycle. Nature really does just keep on going.

Season: 6 – 10 June; The Blackbird Fledglings Leave the Nest

Photograph taken by a friend of mine, who isn’t actually taking part in the seasons, but did give me permission to use the photograph. This is by Philippe and was taken on 8 June showing an empty blackbird nest. I was so pleased to see this as it can be really hard to spot an absence. We want the seasons to be a nice mix, which shows the varied wonder of nature. Sometimes that is about noticing some change, or noticing when something stops, or a feel that these less tangible seasons are part of the wonder of nature. We do think they are important parts of the whole make up of nature affecting wellbeing. It is something that is more intangible, and harder to describe a feeling.

One seeker told us:

“It makes me stop look and listen more. I look up and down not just in front 😊”

And another explained:

“An insight into local nature in our immediate environs, plus the feelings that invokes.”

This makes me feel more confident that we are creating the space for those feelings to happen. People are exploring nature with all their senses, as they wish and finding what works for them.

 

Just at this time, Sue posted this image with the caption ‘Pendle brings us all together’ which was so fitting – in fact it’s the vision for the whole project. Together for our landmark. Bringing people together from both sides of the hill. I think I’d have said Together for our hill! You can read about the project aims here on their website. 

Let’s share some of the wildlife noticed by our seekers…

 

Photographs by; Pamela took this photograph of Peregrine Falcons nesting at St Mary’s Church in Nelson, Michelle took a photograph of this dragonfly on 27 June. The 8 June must have been a great time to spot rabbits and hares, as Tricia captured a ‘Baby Bunny’ and Sue found ‘Mr Hare’. Apparently Mr Hare is a regular visitor to the garden, but rarely stops for photographs!

Photographs by; ‘Hi Cows’ by Sue on 29 June and Blackbird spotted by Ellen on 21 May.

We haven’t set wildlife as seasons so much, as they can be hard to spot and we explained about how we are trying to make sure that people don’t have to be able to venture far to be able to take part. At first that was mostly to include people with disabilities who perhaps couldn’t walk to the hill, but during the year this widened to include everyone who was limited in their range by Covid, (which turned out to be everyone, literally everyone!). However the next two were wildlife we did think everyone stood a chance of seeing.

Season: 11 – 15 June; Butterflies Flutter

These great action shots were captured by Michelle on 17 June and Sally on 16 June.

Have you noticed how many images I’ve shared from Sally? I think she must be our most prolific photographer! Thanks Sally for all your images, and I’m sorry I had to leave so many out too.

Season: 16 – 20 June; Bees are Busy

This photograph of a Bee being busy was taken by John on 17 June.

In terms of wildlife, bees and butterflies are both pollinators, and both at serious risk of decline. It’s wonderful to see them and I think they absolutely deserve a place in the seasons, and should be noticed. I wonder if part of the reason they are at risk is that people take them for granted? We still have chance to change this. As bee expert Dave Goulson says, insects breed fast and they just need a few more flowers to thrive. Many of us can do a bit to help by growing a few bee friendly flowers and avoiding weedkillers. We can also all enjoy the fluttering of butterflies and the buzzing of the bees.

Season: 21 – 26 June; The Days are Long

Oh what a lovely season, one of my favourites – Summer solstice, and the longest day. I think this is a really beautiful image by Cath too. We are currently discussing what we are going to do with all the images and how we are going to share them. We’ll keep you posted!

This is a photography by Sam called “the days are long and so are the shadows!”  I could not love this image more. It works so well with the season, and the project full of seasonal seekers, and the image Cath created above.

Time for one last nature walk in Spring… ( our seasons don’t really match up to Spring and Summer, but we call them that as people seem to understand it better than first quarter, second quarter and so on!)

Jackie shared the mossy wall at Townley on 8 June and then Sue lent us her expertise to share a lush meadow on 29 June, a horse chestnut in flower on 9 June and pine cones on the tree also on 9 June.

Wait a minute is that the same meadow Sue shared earlier?

I think it might be! Let’s hope Sue is still taking part (the programme is anonymous – only names on the Facebook group which is private) and will take some pictures later in the year!

Season: 27 June – 1 July; The Scent of Roses Fills the Air.

Sarah captured this rose on 27 June, Michelle caught this lovely climber on 27 June and Sue found this older, wilder rose (preferred by bees!) on 29 June.

Our final season of Spring – is all about Roses. This was a must, as I’m Kirsty Rose Parker, the lead on this project, and I love roses! What a way to leave and move into more summery seasons, with the scent of roses all around us!

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Winter sign up for ’72 Seasons’ is now open

72 Seasons is open for Winter sign ups.

Image saying 72 seasons now open for winter

 

Would you like to join us? Would you like to take part in a creative and relaxed wellbeing project and come and seek the seasons with us?

It is all completely free, this research is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership range of projects, and is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

People who have taken part this year have described the project as:

“A really interesting way to enjoy nature even more, and an opportunity to easily learn and engage with others in a relaxed way. Brilliant!”

“Very enlightening and I notice more of what’s going on around me”

“Really enjoying it. I have been much restricted in getting out and about because a very ill husband who is shielding. The project is a chance to make me watch the changes from the garden.”

 

All you have to do, is be willing to look around you as you go about your daily life, just from your windows if needed, or as you walk to the corner shop and back. You do not have to be able to travel far or be able to climb Pendle Hill. The whole project takes place through email and surveys, and we have a private Facebook group where people can connect with other seasonal seekers, and share their photographs but you do not have to join the Facebook group. The project is open to anyone who travels/ works/ or lives near to Pendle Hill.

If you want to join us, just send an email to kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk saying your first name and the word join, and we’ll take it from there.

Social Return on Investment; What is it? And do I want it?

Social Return on Investment (SROI) has been around for quite a while, but it’s still not that well understood. Our director, Kirsty Rose Parker, completed the training back in 2010 and has used it on many occasions.

Carrying out a SROI is a robust framework for writing and describing a wider context of value. It puts a financial proxy on to a  project. It is presented in monetary terms but describes value, not actual money. Because SROI is robust and has a structured methodology, it does have some key principles.

  • Change is change and might not always be positive; there may be some negative implications
  • Stakeholders are key to the whole process; an SROI should start with stakeholders
  • SROI uses financial proxies to value change. Throughout this SROI, existing measures of other similar experiences that could also make the changes our participants told us about have been used as financial proxies.
  • It can’t include everything – not everything that changes in people’s lives is down to the project. It is just as important to know when to stop.
  • An SROI should be truthful. It goes without saying really, but on an exercise like this honesty is the best policy. For an SROI to be believable it does need to be based on evidence and data, and not over-claimed.
  • An SROI should be transparent; explaining the process to give transparency to all the decisions made.
  • Results should be verified, either by stakeholders or experts or both

Some funders do recommend ‘Social Return on Investment’ and all respond positively to it. It is a good methodology and we often follow points 1 and 2 in other evaluations, as we like the structure of reminding us to keep an open mind and see what people tell us.

It works best on projects which make big changes to peoples lives; whether that is changes to mental health or overall health, if people get jobs, or are supported to get housing, for those living with dementia or addiction although the process can be adapted to almost all projects or even an organisation as a whole.

It works best on projects which have a clear start point which can be measured, and ideally would look at value over time. If everyone started a project on the same day, it would need to allow a few months for changes to take place. If a programme allows people to join at any time it can be quicker, as then a team of evaluators would be able to talk to people who had just joined and those who had been taking part for a while in the same month.

It is a process of reflection, and evaluation. It will help teams to think about the changes they enable and to see what their impact is. It can help to build pride in a project or organisation. It can definitely increase investment as it gives investors a clear sense of the change their investment enables.

To simplify; If your project changes lives, then yes you want a SROI. If you can get hold of people taking part then yes you can do a SROI. It does need to be done during a project, it’s not impossible to do one retrospectively but it is much harder, so do try and plan one in earlier rather than later.

Give us a call if you want to know more, we’d be happy to chat through the process; over the phone. over zoom or in (socially distanced) person. If you want to do it for yourself…

More information, including a guide to working out a SROI can be found here. 

New Client; Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

We are delighted to be working with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on their Townscape Heritage Project, Blakey Moor.

The Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project is an ambitious £3 million joint investment by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This heritage-led regeneration project is working to transform the historic heart of Blackburn around King George’s Hall and is focused on Blakey Moor, Northgate and Lord Street West.

The Project aims to restore and refurbish historic buildings, improve public spaces and provide local people with opportunities for training in traditional building skills. A programme of complementary events and activities has been taking place alongside the building work and the area’s rich history and heritage used to strengthen its unique identity, attract visitors and promote opportunities in the area.

The Evaluator is working with the project team to evaluate the whole programme over the next 18 months or so, our timetables are flexible to allow for changes due to Covid-19 restrictions. The team includes council staff, architects, local creative folk, residents, businesses, shoppers, students, and is a wide ranging creative evaluation, designed to suit the creative elements of the project itself.

Adapting Evaluations for Covid-19; Three Tips.

We were talking to a client earlier and sharing a newly adapted evaluation for Covid-19 times. None of us know what is coming next or when a return to face-to-face work may be possible. For our clients who often work with really vulnerable individuals this means worry, and feelings of frustration and helplessness. Many charities and not-for-profits have adapted their work: turning to online support sessions; texts; video calls; providing webinars and online discussion groups; YouTube channels; and Digital Festivals. The range of adaptive work is huge and we are adapting away too.

Online work is still making an impact – and work that makes an impact can be measured. That is where we can help: we can figure out how to measure that impact.

Even if you are not working with an evaluation consultancy, here are three simple tips you can use.

1. Use polls

Lots of our clients, and ourselves included, are now using Zoom, which has the option to create polls. You can’t do this ‘live’ during a Zoom call, it must be done in advance. There are lots of simple tutorials online about how to create one. We would recommend you try and think of just one question you can use throughout all your work, and embed it as a poll on each planned meeting. You might be working on increasing wellbeing or connection, or trying to help people cope with new day-to-day lifestyles. You could ask if people feel better for taking part; if they feel better able to cope; if they feel happier for connecting today.

This isn’t just available on Zoom, other systems including ‘Crowdcast’ have these options, so do explore if this is something you could do.

2. Send an online survey

If you are connecting or working with people online, create and send an online survey. We use SurveyMonkey, and would happily recommend it. It’s free for up to 10 questions to fewer than 100 people, and that works well for lots of projects. Today, we have just created a slightly more fancy survey which includes demographic questions, assessment of knowledge and motivation, and marketing and enjoyment. It will take people just a few minutes to complete and the team just have to copy and paste a link into the comments option on each of their webinars. It doesn’t have to be complicated though, and this brings us to our next point…

3. Just ask something

Some information is always better than no information. Just have a go at collecting something. We have recommended simple questions in the past and if in doubt, just ask what people enjoyed; what they think could have gone better; and what they would recommend you do in future.

Good luck working remotely and connecting with people, and we hope you found this mini Covid-19 tips session helpful!

New Client; Crafting the future

72 Seasons now open for Summer

 

72 Seasons is now open for Summer sign ups.

Join us in our beautifully calm and easy nature project. We ask you to fill in some simple online surveys all about health and wellbeing, and then take you on a journey to seek the seasons with us. During Summer we will be looking out for weather changes, plants fruiting and flowering and noticing more of the subtle changes in nature. We will email you three seasons in advance to look out for and then ask what you noticed. It can all be done online, and in your local area. You don’t need to be able to travel far or have a garden, you could take part just by looking out of your windows if you wanted.

 

Summer sign ups has now closed. 

 

We look forward to adventuring with you. Please note 72 seasons is a research project and is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership portfolio of projects.

 

 

Client again Jazz North

How are we coping with coronavirus restrictions? 21 Statistics around our wellbeing…

The world is changing. Here in the UK we are being asked to stay at home, to work from home, and to minimise our movement and travel down to the necessities. We are being asked this to ease pressure on the NHS, to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives.

It’s a strange new world, and we wanted to see if we could understand how people are coping. Well, as you all know, we measure wellbeing regularly. So we did a small survey in our local area, Barnoldswick and nearby to see how people are doing.

Week 2 includes a few more further flung people, as people have shared the survey to friends and family across the UK. This was updated on Friday 3rd April. On Friday 10th April, we added the Week 3 and on Friday 8th May we carried out Week 7 analysis.

Here are the results.

  • 16% of everyone have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks, 84% have not
  • Week 2: 12% of everyone have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks, 88% have not
  • Week 3: 21% of everyone have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks, 79% have not
  • Week 7: 10% of everyone have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks, 90% have not

This means that our week three audience includes more people shielding than the other weeks.

  • 5% work in the NHS, and a further 11% had close friends or family who worked for the NHS
  • Week 2: 5% work in the NHS, and a further 10% had close friends or family who worked for the NHS
  • Week 3: 5% work in the NHS, and a further 13% had close friends or family who worked for the NHS
  • Week 7 : 8% work in the NHS, and a further 10% had close friends or family who worked for the NHS
Our statistics here are reletively consistent and does indicate that the majority of people are at home, without anyone in their household working on the front line.
  • 23% were considered key workers and continued to work, and a further 45% had close friends and family members who were continuing to work
  • Week 2: 23% were considered key workers and continued to work, and a further 38% had close friends and family members who were continuing to work. This could mean more people are off work ill at the moment.
  • Week 3: 20% were considered key workers and continued to work, and a further 36% had close friends and family members who were continuing to work. This probably does mean more people are off work ill at the moment.
  • Week 7: 33% were considered key workers and continued to work, and a further 37% had close friends and family members who were continuing to work.
We asked the statement; how anxious do you feel for yourself and your family?
  • The average score was 6, but there was a huge range of answers here. 20% were very concerned, scoring 10/10 for anxiety.
  • Week 2: The average score was 6, but there was a huge range of answers here. There has been a small fall to 17% were very concerned, scoring 10/10 for anxiety.
  • Week 3: The average score remains 6, but there was a huge range of answers here. There has been a bigger fall to 10% were very concerned, scoring 10/10 for anxiety, possibly people are getting used to a new ‘normal’.
  • Week 7: The average score has now fallen to a 5. There has been a slight increase as 13% feel very concerned, scoring 10/10 for anxiety. The fall overall means as a whole we are feeling less anxious than we were.
We asked the statement; how anxious do you feel for the world?
  • The average score was 7 with 36% of people feeling very anxious and scoring 10/10.
  • Week 2: The average score was 7 with a larger fall of 21% of people feeling very anxious and scoring 10/10.
  • Week 3: The average score fell to 6 with a larger fall of 10% of people feeling very anxious and scoring 10/10. Please note these were not all the same people who felt anxious for themselves and their family. This is a strong indication that people are coping better in week 3 than in week 1 and 2.
  • Week 7: The average score remained a 6 with 12% of people feeling very anxious and scoring 10/10.
The Warwick- Edinburgh scale of wellbeing measures emotional wellbeing. It’s a well used and well respected scale.

The average Warwick-Edinburgh Score was 44.8. That is MUCH lower than we would normally expect. The average England score here is usually around 51. The NHS states that anything under 40 is indicative of mental health issues and we had 23% of respondents score under 40.

Week 2: Our wellbeing scores are plummeting… 

Week 2: The average Warwick-Edinburgh Score was 41.9. That is MUCH lower than we would normally expect and a significant fall in wellbeing. The average England score here is usually around 51. The NHS states that anything under 40 is indicative of mental health issues and we had 38% of respondents score under 40.

Week 3: Our wellbeing scores are creeping up slowly… 

Week 3: The average Warwick-Edinburgh Score was 42.5. That is MUCH lower than we would normally expect and a significant fall in wellbeing. The average England score here is usually around 51. The NHS states that anything under 40 is indicative of mental health issues and we had 41% of respondents score under 40, which is an increase since Week 2 and a large increase since Week 1.

Week 7: Our wellbeing scores are static.. 

Week 3: The average Warwick-Edinburgh Score was 42.5. That is still MUCH lower than we would normally expect and a significant fall in wellbeing. The average England score here is usually around 51. The NHS states that anything under 40 is indicative of mental health issues and we had 37% of respondents score under 40. This may indicate that wellbeing is not going to change much until life changes.

We asked people what they were concerned about?

Food and Shopping – 66% were somewhat or very concerned

  • Week 2: Food and Shopping – 54% were somewhat or very concerned, a fall in concern levels
  • Week 3: Food and Shopping – 59% were somewhat or very concerned, a rise in concern levels
  • Week 7: Food and Shopping – 58% were somewhat or very concerned,showing a static concern level

Health – 77% were somewhat or very concerned

  • Week 2: Health – 73% were somewhat or very concerned, a fall in concern levels
  • Week 3: Health – 74% were somewhat or very concerned, a small rise in concern levels
  • Week 7: Health – 72% were somewhat or very concerned, a small fall in concern levels

Money – 50% were somewhat or very concerned

  • Week 2: Money – 63% were somewhat or very concerned, a rise in concern levels
  • Week 3: Money – 56% were somewhat or very concerned, a large fall in concern levels
  • Week 7: Money – 50% were somewhat or very concerned, a fall in concern levels

People had visited their GP on average 1.11 times in the last three months and on average take 1.55 types of medication every day.

Week 2: People had visited their GP on average 0.76 times in the last three months and on average take 1.15 types of medication every day. Both of these numbers have fallen.

Week 3: People had visited their GP on average 0.72 times in the last three months and on average take 0.94 types of medication every day. Both of these numbers have continued to fall.Week 7: People had visited their GP on average 0.51 times in the last three months and on average take 0.88 types of medication every day. Both of these numbers have continued to fall.

We asked people on how many days they exercised?
  1. Exercised on 1 day usually; 7%       Week 2: 8%     Week 3: 8%     Week 7: 3%
  2. Exercised on 2 days usually; 14%     Week 2: 12%   Week 3: 12%   Week 7: 18%
  3. Exercised on 3 days usually; 23%     Week 2: 27%   Week 3: 18%   Week 7: 13%
  4. Exercised on 4 days usually; 7%       Week 2: 4%     Week 3: 12%   Week 7: 23%
  5. Exercised on 5 days usually; 16%     Week 2: 15%   Week 3: 11%   Week 7: 8%
  6. Exercised on 6 days usually; 5%       Week 2: 2%     Week 3: 3%     Week 7: 3%
  7. Exercised on 7 days usually; 16%     Week 2: 21%   Week 3: 28%   Week 7: 18%
and only 14% (12% in Week 2, and 8% in Week 3 and 12% in Week 7) did no exercise at all. It will be  interesting to see changes here, as the deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, stated on one of the Covid-19 briefings that they hope people will use the time at home to exercise more. In Week 3 we are starting to see this, as the most popular answer is to exercise everyday and has replaced 3 times a week. In Week 7 this has fallen to exercising 4 times a week is the most common. Are good intentions starting to slip?
We also asked about loneliness, but it won’t make much sense until we repeat the survey and measure the change. We are planning to do this every week or two weeks, in case of illness.

People are feeling more lonely in Week 2, although this eases slightly in Week 3.

Loneliness has remained fairly static between week 4 and week 7.

About our respondents;
  • 44% were working from home and 31% were at home without work
  • 29% were caring for children or other adults
  • 5% were at home and feeling ill
  • 80% were female and 20% male
  • 100% were White British
  • 11% were aged under 30, 64% aged between 30 and 60 and 25% were over 60 years old
  • 61% were not disabled, 32% were limited a little and 7% limited a lot
About our Week 2 respondents;
  • 56% were working from home and 32% were at home without work
  • 44% were caring for children or other adults
  • 4% were at home and feeling ill
  • 87% were female and 13% male
  • 100% were White British
  • 6% were aged under 30, 80% aged between 30 and 60 and 14% were over 60 years old
  • 88% were not disabled, 12% were limited a little and 0% limited a lot
About our Week 3 respondents;
  • 29% were working from home and 43% were at home without work
  • 38% were caring for children or other adults
  • 4% were at home and feeling ill and a further 4% were caring for children or other adults who were feeling ill
  • 88% were female and 12% male
  • 97% were White British and 3% were from a Black or Minority Ethnic background
  • 11% were aged under 30, 65% aged between 30 and 60 and 24% were over 60 years old
  • 71% were not disabled, 16% were limited a little and 11% limited a lot, with a further 3% preferring not to say
About our Week 7 respondents;
  • 45% were working from home and 39% were at home without work
  • 43% were caring for children or other adults
  • 4% were at home and feeling ill but no one was caring for children or other adults who were feeling ill
  • 82% were female and 17% male, and 2% preferred not to say
  • 95% were White British and 3% were from a Black or Minority Ethnic background, while 2% preferred not to say
  • 10% were aged under 30, 78% aged between 30 and 60 and 12% were over 60 years old
  • 66% were not disabled, 5% were limited a little and 29% limited a lot,

How are we coping?

40% of people are using new ways to connect with technology. In Week 2: this had risen to 69%.
In Week 3 56% had been using new ways to connect with technology and 42% were using technology the same as they normally would. Possibly a lot of the learning for new technologies happened in Week 2, and it was now part of people’s ‘normality’. In Week 7 66% had been using new ways to connect with technology and 34% were using technology the same as they normally would. These have increased again, showing how many people are still adapting to a new world.
The following is a list of all the ways people were coping. We wanted to share the ideas and end on a positive note.
  • Daily walk with dogs. Read books. Stay in contact with family and friends. Try to find positives
  • Trying not to think to much about it
  • You tube, walking, videos
  • Walking in the fresh air  , watching comedy on tv
  • Gardening, reading books, trying to limit social media and news
  • Cycling, walking, crafts, gardening, cooking, face timing friends and family
  • Listen to music.
  • Positive mental attitude. I look at the huge opportunities the future presents
  • Playing games, talking to my grandma over her yard wall
  • I’ve been looking at new hobbies.
  • Reading, crafting,
  • Walking the dog. Video links to the gym. Trying to eat well.
  • The whole thing is irritating me as I’m trying to juggle being made redundant and selling my house right now!
  • Enjoying nature
  • Documentaries,  Cpd,  Cooking from scratch
  • Enjoying the sunshine in the yard. Making things at home. Playing games
  • Reading, gardening, cleaning, tv, jigsaw puzzles,
  • Decorating reading and walking
  • chatting to family and friends. started doing some crafts. cleaning
  • Organising/Spring Cleaning  Indoor Recreational Activities
  • PE with Joe Wicks, Video Calling friends and making plans, gardening and planning to grow food, gratitude and positive thinking
  • Creating family WhatsApp groups. Speaking more to people when safe to. Checking in on elderly parents
  • Gardening
  • Gardening
  • Ringing family and friends. Walking alone most days. Spring cleaning. Gardening
  • Keep busy.

Gardening is certainly a popular answer!

Week 2 answers:

  • After I planned for the worse case scenario I am now trying to enjoy some down time
  • Exercise when i can but rare opportunity as 3 disabled kids at home to entertain.
  • Set up a new online shop , filming art tutorials, cooking
  • Daily exercise as usual
  • Trying to stay away from the news, exercise daily & keep in touch with friends  family & colleagues
  • Meditation, focusing on work, spending time with the kids, watching telly, going for runs, walking, starting a journal
  • Walking to get fresh air   Trying to eat healthier
  • Wine!!!
  • Routines;   Daily workouts   work / Admin throughout the day,   Watching a netflix series with my girlfriend in the evening   Xbox   Friday night drinks in the flat with my girlfriend
  • spending time with the children and doing conditioning exercises with Max Whitlock online
  • Crochet essays tv walks
  • Video calling  Baking  Cleaning  Organising  Walking
  • Nothing as I have the virus
  • Focusing on cheering other people up to take my mind off own problems
  • Walking each day
  • Exercise indoors, walks outside when I can. Talking to friends and family often. Reading, watching tv and films that cheer me up.
  • Drinking
  • Getting outside –
  • Gardening / hard landscaping the garden
  • Exercise, Gardening, Gratitude, Jigsaw
  • Landscape gardening.    Playing board games.
  • One day at a time no plans
  • Looking after my horses
  • Have fun at home. Keep in contact with people.
  • Baking and reading
  • Jobs ,gardening , rtf
  • Reading, exercise videos and doing arts and crafts with my children
  • Walk each day
  • Joe Wick’s PE
  • Exercise every day. Cook nice things
  • PMA
  • Daily walk with family
  • Continue working, checking in on neighbours, family and friends, maintaining routine with my children, continuing physical activity
  • Knitting, watching box sets, cleaning

In Week 3, we asked some questions about hope. People on the whole think the shutdown will last about 12 weeks. That would mean these measures continuing to the 15th June.

Finally we asked about hope for the future. On average, where 10 was very hopeful and 0 was no hope, people scored a 6. 10% of people were full of hope scoring 10/10 on this question.

In Week 7 we asked again about hope. On average, where 10 was very hopeful and 0 was no hope, people scored a 6 again. A slight fall, as only 8% of people were full of hope scoring 10/10 on this question.

The picture is now quite static. We have learned an awful lot about our wellbeing during this time. Let’s end this project on a positive as we share what people have been up to, to stay cheerful over the last 7 weeks.

  • Walking each day with family  Eating proper meals  Getting enough sleep
  • My name is David Whipp. I am all I need to stay cheerful and healthy. My cheese and onion pies will sustain me for eternity. I am the law! (I kept this in, all our local Barnoldswick people will understand this, if you don’t – it’s a joke!)
  • same as usual
  • Working. Enjoying the extra free time.
  • Just carrying on as near to usual as possible sticking to the new rules and hoping we’ll be free soon
  • Trying to be positive and only be around positive people. I feel guilty when I go out alone to exercise as I generally spend 2>4 hours out as I’m alone
  • Continued to work as normal, exercise regularly and keeping in touch with family and friends
  • Helping others where safe and possible
  • Trying my hardest to be positive trying to not think I am on my own. I ve tried to cycle to and from work to boost my mood I think most for me is having a positive outlook and think it’s not forever.
  • Making things for charity. Sitting by my front door to get some sunshine when possible as I can’t get outdoors.
  • Decorating   Baking   Doing activities with the children   Daily walks
  • Nature, laughing, thinking
  • Gardening, painting, beekeeping, crosswords, reading,baking.
  • Sorting my life out
  • Jigsaws and Family Tree
  • Walking and eating better
  • Working, baking, gardening, tidying, DIY
  • Exercise, cooking nice things, online shopping, gardening
  • Baking, Reading, Listening to music, Keeping in touch with friends and family
  • Focusing on work. Taking exercise. Connecting with friends & family. Meditation & keeping a journal.
  • Puzzles, Netflix, Baking, Calls with friends and family, crafts
  • get outside and enjoy the area we live in
  • Walking more than normal, making the weekend different by having treats and playing games online with friends. Arranging times to video call friends.
  • Nothing
  • Reading
  • Baking
  • Focus on work. Weekends are hard to deal with
  • Enjoying the garden, going for a daily walk with family,
  • Jigsaw puzzle. Family quizzes by phone
  • Working
  • Nothing particularly hence why I’m not cheerful and my health is not the best and the worry does not help
  • Nothing specific
  • Knitting
  • Trying to keep busy with diy projects but I’ve lost the will now.
  • Nothing
  • Walking and gardening.
  • Gardening
  • Speaking on facebook, telephone
  • PE with Joe Wicks
  • nothing been to busy looking after 2 disabled children
  • Drinking alcohol more   FaceTime   Calling friends, family, work colleague   Being outside in open space-which we are lucky to live in a house with lots of outdoor space
  • Walking my dogs
  • I run a small bird rescue so keeps my mind occupied
  • Baking, eating fresh food
  • Not a lot
  • weight lifting
  • Nothing
  • Joe Wicks exercise every day,crochet headbands for hospitals, baking, trying to master my iPad to do some online sales as shop is closed in Skipton
  • Colouring housework playing games Zumba
  • Baking, watching TV, music, hot tub, walks,drinking and eating
  • DIY and gardening
  • Gardening  Reading
  • Just getting on with it
  • Paint furniture
  • Working and drinking
  • N/a

Any queries about this work, drop us an email at kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk

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