Summer in the 72 Seasons

Summer!

It wasn’t the sunniest and warmest of Summers in the main. Maybe all the sunshine was allocated to Spring? I think if I’m honest this season struggled a bit more than the others. Lots of people did manage to go on holidays, including me, and staff shortages meant an extremely busy Summer when not away. One seeker explained “I am enjoying this project but feel I’ve contributed less lately due to family commitments during the school holidays.” Maybe everyone spent more time in nature and less time sharing pictures, or our seasons maybe didn’t pop quite as much, but luckily our intrepid seasonal seekers adapted well and sought out quite a lot of nature to share with others.

I think it shows how resilient the project and the concept is. A year is a long time to run an activity with people, and there has to be peaks and troughs within that year. Also, as an experimental concept, running for the first time, it’s always tricky to predict how much people will ‘get it’ especially since this project is a little deliberately vague so people can make it what they want it to be.  I only hoped that some people would stay with us for the whole year, I did expect quite a lot of people to drop out. Spoiler alert! They didn’t, well not many did!

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Season; 2 – 6 July: Trees Create Dappled Sunshine

I have a little confession to make here, this is what I think of as ‘my’ season. It’s my birthday in this time and when I was writing all the seasons and planning it out, I did decide to create something that is special for me. That special thing is when trees create dappled sunshine. I love to walk through a woodland or through just a couple of trees where beams of sunshine fall down through the canopy, and one footstep is lit up and glittery and the next in shadow. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world, and a little bit of everyday magic. Luckily, our seekers agreed with me and this season made the final cut.

We keep a season if more than 50% of our seekers agree with it. They can agree in two ways; ‘yes I noticed this’ or ‘yes I think this is right but did not notice it myself’ and we gave that option to account for busy lives, or trips away or just times when people had other things going on.

I do love the way our seekers notice wonderful little moments and then share it. On the 2 July one person captured a spiderweb which has captured many raindrops. One person said “These are like beautiful jewels” and another “Amazing that it can hold all that water and possibly even survived the heavy rain we’ve had to catch that many droplets – incredible!”.

Spider web fact- Spider silk is stronger by weight than steel. Spider silk is lighter than cotton and up to 1,000 times thinner than human hair, yet it’s also incredibly strong for such a wispy material.

In the emails we sent to people explaining the new seasons to look out for we would share snippets of information and some knowledge about each season, to help encourage people to keep learning, which is one of the five ways to wellbeing. The five ways to wellbeing are a core part of this project, the principles underline the whole piece of work. It’s that the five ways – connect, take notice, keep learning, be active and give back, are proven ways to help us feel better. That’s quite important during a pandemic, when our wellbeing is much more fragile.

 

This photograph of birds feeding was taken on 5 July by one of our seekers.  Isn’t that an amazing photograph? Really in the moment, perfectly timed, and crisp focus too.

Our seekers were out in force that Sunday, also spotting…

An elephant hawk moth, daisies and a field of lavender.

One day later, 6 July a seeker shared a photograph of wild strawberries. “I’ve been picking and eating wild raspberries on my walk” one seeker mentioned and another “Wild strawberries are tiny with a surprisingly good flavour.”

Season; 7 – 11 July: Hot Winds Blow

It’s January as I write this, and it’s cold and windy. But I can think back to when the wind is hot, I can remember the feel of that on my skin. I can remember the warmth. It’s a hard season to capture in a photograph, and most of our seekers seemed to be looking down. Maybe they were avoiding those hot winds?

 

Mushrooms taken on the 7 July, and both ladybirds also spotted (do you like what I did there?) on the 7 July.

One place where it’s always windy, hot or not, is our anchor, Pendle Hill. All our seekers live around it, within half an hour or so. This project is funded by the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

This image of Pendle Hill was taken on the 11 July. We did keep this season.

Season; 12 – 16 July: The Raspberries Turn Red

Some raspberries, red ones, at Quarry Hill in Nelson, taken on the 12 July. It looks like a gloriously sunny day on that photograph.

Yet look at this, taken just two days later. The Great British weather in Summer is a moveable feast!

Fog on the hills taken on 14 July.

Then back to sunshine again. Impossible to predict. I know, I tried! This time our seekers found flowers

Pink flower taken on the 15 July, same as the yellow flower, and the photograph of the white flower was taken on the 12 July. I don’t know the names of all of these flowers, except for Cow Parsley on the right.

Taken the day before our new season on 16 July, one seeker was cleverly anticipating the next season.

Season; 17 – 23 July: Lavender Feeds the Bees

Great timing as this was taken on the 17 July. I also love how this seems to match Cath’s drawing perfectly. The colour, shape, stance, everything is just spot on. Sometimes, there is a season like this where everything works- the timing, the weather, the noticing, all in perfect alignment and this was one of those seasons. Lots of people saw lavender with bees on in real life and there was 100% agreement this season, but it was quite tricky to photograph. That doesn’t matter though, its nice to think of people watching the seasons in real life, and not always through a screen. Especially this year, where screen use is probably higher than it ever has been.

Amazing that one of our seekers managed to photograph this, which was taken on 19 July.

72 Seasons has been a really democratic place, where anyone could share knowledge and information, stories, and wonder. It has remained a really pure group on Facebook, which is drama free and all about nature in this area. Not everyone taking part in the project takes part in the Facebook aspect, its not necessary, but these blog posts do have a heavy Facebook influence. The amount of knowledge shared is wonderful. Here are just a couple of examples.

A hazelnut developing 19 July.

A Chicory Field on 21 July, identified via the hive-mind. “I wonder if it was planted/sown or if it has just taken over the field? you sometimes see it on roadside verges too” one seeker mused and another thought “I think chicory too”. Little snippets like this happened many, many times, and each time it helped the group to connect a little more. One seeker told us they were “Enjoying to growing feeling of being part of a community.” in Summer.

I originally planned the connect aspect of the project to be purely about connecting to the nature around you, and it evolved to be more. That’s exciting, when an idea starts to find it’s own path.

Season; 23 – 28 July: The Hollyhock Grows Tall

By Summer, our seekers were confidently going off-piste. Sharing what they noticed as they looked for the seasons but not always sharing the seasons!

One seeker found a clump of mushrooms, and titled the picture ‘Bleeding Fairy Helmet’ thankfully, as I don’t know about you but my mushroom identification skills leave a lot to be desired. A newly sheered sheep made an appearance and this season the group had long discussions about invasive and dangerous plants like this Himalayan Balsam, spotted and photographed on the 24 July. I recognise the plant by its smell mostly, it’s a sickly sweet smell which immediately reminds me of walks in my childhood but I have no idea why.

The weather was also noticed, although sadly not much sunshine was found. That tricky Great British Summer again.

The 26 July saw our seekers drawn to water, with both of the above photographs taken then. The water level was high for summer, do you remember the weather? It was really mixed.  “A very poor July weather wise so far” one seeker told us.  Another said “July has just been so atypical this year! Up on the Bowland Fells we have had very little other than heavy cloud & rain, with some fierce winds.” and another explained “A rather wet July , lots of mist on Pendle Hill. Then a sudden break in the cloud gives you such amazing views. Has been cool in the evenings.”

On the 28 July they found rainbows. Which kinda proves how mixed the weather was. 72 Seasons in one day? Not quite. One person did say “Perhaps we really do need 72 seasons – the weather is so changeable.”

 

Season; 29 July – 2 August: Damp Earth, Humid Heat

Another season which is a tricky one to photograph. While I mention that, how well has Cath Ford, our artist, done? She has represented concepts really well throughout. I’m sure there must be a few head scratching moments when I send her the titles, but I don’t see that in what comes back. It all feels beautiful, and right, and often seamless and timeless, like that image has always been a part of that season, and Cath revealed that to me.

Our seekers loved the images too  “The illustrations were ‘spot on’ And illustrated the seasons well.” one seeker told us in Summer, “Love the images – they are really inspiring and draw me in.” continued another and “The illustrations were brilliant” and “Love the pictures of each season” and we could go on!

A cloudy Pendle Hill 30 July. There is a famous book called ‘Mist over Pendle” and it’s such an apt title. I often think of it, as I see Pendle peeking from the mist.

As we left July and entered August, our seekers kept taking notice. Flowers were spotted.

Both of the above were taken on 1 August. The ‘Mallow Half and Half Petals’ attracted some attention, as the group tried to work out what caused the unusual colouring? “virus infection and complicated genetic effects ( epigenetics) are other possibilities. Whatever the reason it’s interesting and Beautiful.” was the ultimate consensus.

And I dug up some potatoes I’d grown and took a moment to show off!

Oh these potatoes, they look so innocent, but in reality… I have a four year old son, and during lockdown we planted these potatoes together. We checked on them most days, and even gave them a bit of watering. I taught him how to earth up the potatoes. We talked about them and about eating them for four months. Then, when they were cooked, said 4 year old refused to even taste one. Aaargh, Kids!!

Season; 3 – 7 August: The Breeze is Hiding

I mentioned that we keep the seasons which get more than 50% agreement. Some are only just over the 50% but a decision needs to be fairly applied. This was one of those slightly more controversial seasons. One seeker told us “The weather has been different each day recently from calm and still to stormy.” and another was blunter, “The breeze was most definitely blowing, not hiding!” which did make me laugh at the time!

Season; 8 – 12 August: Blackberries Stain Fingertips

This is a new season and replaced ‘a cool wind blows’ as less than 50% of our seekers agreed. One person explained there was a  “Warm wind blowing.” and another said “During this period we had just about the only day so far in 2020 when there was NO noticeable wind or breeze at all!” which again, I loved. I do really like the honesty of our seekers, and I sometimes think they like the seasons I get completely wrong more than the ones I get right! The process by the way, when we have a gap, is that I read all the comments from this season and have a look at what people were sharing at that time. There is usually one thing that is mentioned most. This season was Blackberries. I wanted a description linked to an action, as it is surrounded by two more passive, watching type seasons. I actually really love the description I came up with in the end. Is that too big headed?

This image of Blackberries was taken on 8 August.

While talking about the 8 August, our seekers enjoyed chatting about the old aide memoir of cut the lavender back to 8 inches on the 8 August (8 month). We mostly agreed this maybe was more suitable for further south gardens. “Not cutting mine back……it is covered in bees and the flowers are not over yet” one seeker explained.

Here is a lovely picture of Lavender in Sunshine taken on 8 August, just to confirm the point!

Ahh. The Great British Summer is back. ‘Foggy View’ taken on the 8 August. Lots of different weather in different parts of our area on 8 August.

Wildlife spotting continued;

Caterpillars spotted on the 11 August and Chicken on a wall spotted on the 13 August. Quite intrigued about the chicken! I don’t remember noticing this at the time. Do you think there are some hidden steps, or is the garden much higher? Is there an intrepid chicken run type flying contraption just out of shot? It feels like there is a story here. I would have asked more questions had I spotted that one!

 

Season; 13 – 17 August: Morning Sunshine Lights the Grass

All of these images were taken on the 13 August, the day the new season began. The third one is such a close match to Cath’s drawing.

It’s lovely when people remember the previous seasons.

Feeding bees, and dappled sunshine spotted in the forest, both on the 15 August.

Sometimes it’s just what catches peoples eyes, and this bright red poppy is certainly eye catching!

Poppy photographed on 16 August.

Season; 18 – 22 August: The Apples are Ready to Harvest

Taken on the 19 August I think this photograph works particularly well with Cath’s drawing. I feel like I can put my hand into the image, and pick an apple. Do you know how to tell if an apple is right? You hold it in your hand and twist ever so gently and if it is ready, it comes away easily. If you have to yank it away from the tree, it’s not ripe.

Season; 23 – 27 August: The Sunflower Stretches High

All of the above were taken on 23 August, the sunflowers were stretching high against lovely sunny blue skies.

Season; 28 August – 1 September: Earth and Sky Begin to Cool

Another tricky image. I’m starting to think I put all the difficult ones together! People did share images which evoked feelings though. It’s a season of change, and you can see warmth and coolness here and transitions too, with a sunny canal shot from the 29 August, a tree leaves image which feels colder also from the 29 August and a ‘Spectacular Sunset’ taken on 30 August.

Season; 2 – 7 September: The Orange Leaves Start to Show

There is a poignant feel to this season, as the leaves start to change. There is also a quote, unattributed, and often misquoted (possibly by me) that the trees are about to show us “how beautiful it is to let things go”. Do you feel this? I’m not sure I do yet. But I do know that 72 seasons has made me enjoy winter and autumn and to look forward to every change, not to miss the days before. Spring and Summer will always have my heart, but I’ve learned to see the act of noticing change as the important part.

These leaves were spotted on 5 September. Don’t forget this is a taste of Autumn to come, not full autumn yet, as this next image shows. Tomatoes ripening in the sunshine. I can almost smell the warmth of that spot nestled by the dry stone wall.

Tomatoes growing in a photograph taken on 6 September.

Season; 9 – 12 September: Spider Webs Glisten

This was another season which was better in real life. Many people spotted the webs and this season received 97% agreement overall. However, the wispy-thin-ethereal-ness of spider webs are not so easy to capture on a photograph. Our seekers did manage though, just a little later. Practice makes perfect possibly?

Elderberries from 12 September and  Fox and Cub, a wildflower from 12 September

The group carried on connecting this season in other ways. There was a lively discussion around Elderberries. One person asked “Haven’t you got to be careful about elderberry cordial? I’ve seen something somewhere about there being something unpleasant in it which can be a problem when you don’t know how much is in the berries themselves.” and another, answered “Wikipedia link and others say that the plant contains compounds that generate cyanide. Various reports of poisoning, also seems to be little evidence of health benefits.” Although, confession time again, I’ve made elderberry cordial every autumn for three or four years now and I am convinced it helps me catch less colds. That could well be a placebo effect!

Also on the 12 September, this photograph of Holly Berries.

Some of our seekers really do discuss timing and the changes in nature, almost having a sense of the pattern of the world. One person noticed that here saying “amazing that the holly berries are already red.” and another explaining “They do seem to be reddening quite early. I also spotted some less “ripe” berries too.”

Season; 13 – 17 September: Tree’s Drop their First Leaves

90% of people agreed with this season, but few photographs were shared. Maybe everyone was busy with back to school and work routines and there wasn’t time to go and explore, just to notice?

Great photograph of a Honeybee in Passion Flower was shared on the 14 September. One of our seekers explained “Pleased to see this honey bee working the passionflower in my garden. She was there for ages. Hoping she passes on the message. They haven’t got long now before they have to hunker down in preparation for winter.” One seeker agreed, “it’s a stunning flower very exotic looking.” Another replied “Our garden has been so busy with bees and coloured butterflies today. So good to see . Didn’t manage to get a pic.”

Butterfly photograph taken on 15 September.

And another seeker captured a butterfly photograph for the other seeker who didn’t get one. Isn’t that a fine example of good sharing!

Spider webs had a surprisingly long season, with people spotting them and remembering them all the way through September.

One seeker found these fantastically lit examples in a field on the 14 September. I really love the way the sunlight picks them out.

21 September a spider in its web is found!

29 September was the best day for Spider webs, maybe an important date in the arachnid calendar? I think this is a really important set of photographs as it shows you can look for nature and the seasons from the wildness of huge vistas or in your back garden or just walking along a street. That’s the most special part of it, it’s everywhere, and persistent, and beautiful, and, easy to miss.

Season; 18 – 22 September: The Swallows Leave

They did leave, one seeker said “Think ours have gone 😢” and another “I’ve not seen mine for quite a few days now” and one reported a friend from Whalley had confirmed this “the swallows have left 😥 there must have been 150 on the wires last night. It’s so quiet without them.” Although this felt like a bit of a sad season, it’s important to try and get some balance. Without them leaving would we notice the return as much? And, think of that, 150 gathered on the wires. Like a huge party! 

Season; 23 – 27 September: Thunder Lowers it’s Voice

One of my favourite bits about this season was how our group all support each other – including me, and Cath Ford too. Cath posted on this one “Right, anyone got any thoughts about how I can draw thunder? These sound-based seasons are a challenge.” And we all rallied round, and talked mostly about lightning! Being no help whatsoever as it turned out!

What do you think of the final drawing? I spent a moment looking at it then, and it certainly raised a feeling of being ‘unsettled’. I love it when art provokes a feeling.

Both swan photographs were taken on 26 September. As an aside this season we had a discussion around swans. One seeker explained “The swans on the canal near me had four babies grow all the way up this year. Every time I walked down there it always made me smile to see they still had four. I have been taking pictures of them all year and they have genuinely turned into my lockdown pals!” and another “The Skipton Canal Basin swans have managed 11 cygnets this year. All thriving”

There are no seasons about Swans, as they can’t be easily spotted in everyday life. Obviously that’s different if you live near a canal, but making this project accessible to everyone is a really important part of it.

Season; 28 September – 2 October: Black Elderberries Dance in the Wind

This was our last season of the quarter of the year that mostly relates to Summer. Our 72 seasons don’t easily match the established four, they are much more subtle and ever-changing.

This image of elderberries was taken on 28 September. Another seeker did capture a fantastic video of them dancing in the wind, but I can’t seem to share a video from a closed Facebook group.

29 September (Spider Web Spotting Day) was also time to spot a Poisonous Mushroom.
One seeker explained “May be beautiful – but highly poisonous!!!” and another “Oh dear! From my childhood (and I’m very old!) my parents (who were experts (???) ) told ne not to touch them and if I did and licked my fingers I’d get a very upset stomach. My fungus book (with perhaps 1,000 varieties to choose from) indicates that its a Shaggy Ink Cap (or Lawyers Wig) which seems reasonable. Of course the fact that i’m still here (and do pick and eat wild mushrooms) indicates that they must have got something right!”

I think that’s another important point. When we first started discussing this project, we used to talk about things like how we used to know nature better and modern life has made us a bit too far removed from it. I don’t think I talked about mushrooms with my oldest son? But because of this project, I know I have with my youngest. And, I’m so proud that we have managed to put a group together who have that knowledge and can share it, or learn it.

Autumn next. I shall be writing up that adventure shortly!

 

Please note all photographs have been image described in their captions, to make sure this post is accessible to the widest possible audience.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this blog post, please send me an email at kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk – I’m afraid I had to turn comments of, as it was just getting filled with spam robot stuff which no-one wants to see.

 

New Client; Cairngorms Capercaillie Project

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new client, and will be evaluation partner on The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project.

The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project is the coming together of communities in the Cairngorms National Park to help secure the long-term future of capercaillie in the UK.

The UK capercaillie population is in serious decline, but communities across the Cairngorms National Park want to help. It’s possible that there are now less than 1,000 capercaillie left in the UK. And almost all of them live in the Cairngorms National Park. Action in the Park is therefore critical to prevent extinction in the UK.

In the past the focus has been on ecological solutions to help capercaillie, delivered ‘top-down’, by landowners and agencies. These actions have helped, but losses continue. In response, the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project is turning to communities across the Cairngorms National Park and putting local people in the driving seat to make decisions about how they can help. It’s a road less travelled and far from straight, but one considered essential to explore in these critical times.

Saving a species on the brink of extinction will always be complex, and there is no ‘one size fits all’, the project’s work with communities is therefore part of five essential actions to be delivered across the Cairngorms National Park from 2020 to 2023.

Essential actions for capercaillie

  • Help communities to create and deliver their own community-led actions for capercaillie.
  • Raise awareness of the plight of capercaillie and how people can help.
  • Research the genetic diversity of capercaillie in the National Park to help inform action.
  • Improve and create more habitat for capercaillie.
  • Strengthen current capercaillie monitoring to enable more informed decisions.

The Evaluator is delighted to be the evaluation partner in this project, helping to measure concepts like ownership and the journey of participatory and democratic conservation. You can read more about the project here  and see more about the Capercaillie itself here. 

How are you really doing?

The pandemic continues and it has certainly been a tough start to many in 2021. We have felt it ourselves, continually having to make changes, feeling anxious about our health and family and friends, it is not the best situation to be in.

Image description for whoever needs it – The Evaluator yellow banner showing a woman with a bun and yellow jumper sat on some steps with a telescope looking at The Evaluator logo

But, we wanted to reassure you – you might be doing much better than you think. We have designed two instant feedback tools to help you work out how you are doing. Often, we are so close to something, we can’t step back and see what we are doing well. Let us help you figure that out. And, if you’re not, it’s helpful to know that, and be able to try and make some changes.

Firstly, we have a wellbeing quiz. 

This is for individuals, and is designed to be a private experience, so please don’t ask your team to take this and report back. You might want to simply encourage people to take a moment to self-reflect on how they are. And this quiz can help guide them through the process. It should be reassuring or something which makes you think about doing a bit more self care. The average score on this quiz is around 55 – 65%, so if your  score is less than 55% it might be time to step up your self care. Think about things like exercise, relaxation, listening to some good music, watching a funny film, or just going for a nice walk. Try and make time for your own wellbeing.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE WELLBEING QUIZ

If you have concerns about your own wellbeing or that of a friend or colleague, try having a read about the five ways to wellbeing. Here is a good starting place. 

Secondly, we have a resilience quiz for organisations. 

This is designed to help you see how you are doing as a workplace. Just be honest and see what you score. It only takes about 3 minutes.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE RESILIENCE QUIZ

Once you have taken the quiz, see how your score compares?

Score 0 – 30%
Scores of 0-30% show you might want to think what you can do to be more resilient, but it’s perfectly okay to decide to just ‘survive’ in a pandemic.

Score 31 – 50%
Scores of 31-50% show you are negotiating a somewhat resilient path through the pandemic, with some adjustments being more successful than others. It might be worth having a resilient discussion with your team. Encourage them to take this quiz and discuss your scores. Or simply ask yourselves three questions;
1. What are we doing well?
2. What are we not doing well?
3. What could we do better?

Score 51% – 75%
Your organisation is trying new things and positively ‘thriving’. Keep taking risks, communicating well and adapting as the world changes.

Over 75%
Scores of 76-100% – you are resilience experts; why not think of sharing these skills with another organisation? Reach out and see who might need some help or start sharing your secrets on social media and with partners.

A Christmas Break

We are taking a Christmas break, and shall be back, refreshed, on the 4th January 2021.

Happy Holidays.

A Christmas Break

Caption for whoever needs it; The Evaluator branded frame in blue with thinking woman with text reading ‘A Christmas Break’

New Client; Attitude is Everything

We are delighted to be working with a new client, Attitude is Everything, evaluating Beyond the Music. Beyond the Music is an ambitious programme, funded by Reaching Communities from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to encourage more Deaf and disabled people to work in the music industry.

Here is an extract from the Attitude is Everything website. You can see the website directly by clicking here. 

“Attitude is Everything is pleased to announce Beyond the Music, a new three-year programme that aims to boost employment opportunities for Deaf and disabled people in the commercial music sector.

Findings from Arts Council England show just 4% of staff at National Portfolio Organisations, and just 1.8% of staff at music industry organisations, consider themselves to be disabled. This is a significant disparity from the UK’s general population, where 19% of working adults are considered disabled under the Equality Act.

Such a disconnect may be the result of barriers and discrimination, but our own research suggests that many Deaf and disabled people in the industry may also lack confidence to make their impairment known. Last year we revealed that that 70% of disabled musicians hid details of their impairment for fear of losing opportunities, and that two-thirds had compromised their health to perform in inaccessible conditions.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Beyond The Music will look to explore these issues and employment gaps, while taking a two-pronged approach to identify solutions: supporting Deaf and disabled people to gain the necessary skills, experience, support and contacts they require to work or volunteer in the music industry, while providing training, resources and guidance to help music businesses build a truly inclusive work environment.

The project launches with a new survey, open to any Deaf or disabled person who works or is aspiring to work in the industry. Their responses will play a key part in shaping the programme over the next three years.

Over that period, we are aiming to create:

  1. A Beyond The Music Network – a place for Deaf and disabled people working or seeking to work in the industry to meet, network, share ideas and find support around navigating the industry.
  2. Structured opportunities for Deaf and disabled people to develop their skills through training, mentoring, shadowing and skilled employment and volunteering opportunities.
  3. Accessible Creative Environments training – a new training course tailored to support companies within in the industry to create a truly inclusive workplace culture.
  4. An Accessible Employment and Volunteering Toolkit
  5. A Future Leaders programme – a year long skills development programme designed to help talented Deaf and disabled people develop the skills to lead the industry in the future.

Head of Volunteering and Skills Development for Attitude is Everything Paul Hawkins said

“This is a challenging time for everyone in the music business, especially within live events. The industry’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign has highlighted the gravity of the situation, but, as we plot a pathway back from coronavirus, Attitude is Everything believes it is crucial that Deaf and disabled people have full and equal access to any employment opportunities on offer.”

Beyond The Music will allow us to try and identify why Deaf and disabled workers are so underrepresented in the sector, and to take positive action to implement change. The first step towards that goal is the survey we are launching today. We are enormously grateful to the National Lottery for funding this project, and also for support we’ve received from venues and others in the business. More will be needed on the road ahead as we strive for equality and inclusivity.

A number of music industry organisations are already backing Beyond The Music, with The Barbican, the Brighton Centre, Manchester Arena, the SEC, the South Bank Centre and Norwich Arts Centre all offering expertise to a Venues Advisory Group that will help formulate a strategy around the survey findings. Further support has been confirmed by Sony Music and Youth Music.

Industry umbrella body UK Music have also invited Attitude is Everything to join their Diversity Taskforce to help ensure access for Deaf and disabled people is high on their agenda. UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl said:

“For a number of years UK Music has been a proud supporter of Attitude is Everything’s great work to improve access to music and the music industry for Deaf and disabled people. Beyond The Music is an exciting new initiative that everyone must now get behind. We look forward to working with Attitude is Everything on this and welcoming them to the UK Music Diversity Taskforce.”

Alongside the initiative, we are pleased to announce a new role within the Attitude is Everything team. The Skills Development Manager will lead on our work with Deaf and disabled people aspiring to work in music by helping them to access training, advice and guidance and brokering placements with music industry partners.

To find out more about Beyond the Music and how you can support it, please contact Paul Hawkins via paul@attitudeiseverything.org.uk.

The Evaluator is looking forward to helping this organisation to measure the impact of it’s work, on individuals and on the music industry too. As part of this project we are looking into concepts including ambition, what holds people back, and how industry can change attitudes over time.

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.

 

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. 

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 7: The average Warwick-Edinburgh Score was still 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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