Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Evaluating Wellbeing

Wellbeing is included in almost every evaluation we complete. It is such an important part of life, and is about being comfortable - whether that is with your emotional health, your physical health, your everyday lifestyle, or just the situation or place you are in.

Comfortable is a really important word here. Did you know that it’s in the official definition of Wellbeing?

Evaluation definition, Wellbeing:
 “the feeling of being comfortable, healthy or happy”. 

We use many different evaluation methods for measuring Wellbeing, but the ones we use the most are probably the Warwick-Edinburgh Scale of Wellbeing, or one that relates to the Five Ways to Wellbeing. This was originally a piece of research carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in 2007. It's very easy to remember and it feels right, which is when you know it is right. 

Making new friends (or just socialising in general), feeling useful (as though you are giving something back to the world or society), noticing more (which could be the beauty of nature, or what you are grateful for), actually being active (regardless of whether that is a gentle walk, some swimming, or a hardcore gym session), and keeping learning (new skills, knowledge or facts) do make all of us feel better in ourselves.

It is worth thinking about how your project or activity is impacting on the five ways or, of course, we could do that for you. Measuring changes in these will often be a great way to demonstrate impact.

Monday, 11 November 2019

We are hiring!

Freelance opportunities to come and work with us...

The Evaluator is a fast-growing evaluation consultancy, founded in 2017 by Kirsty Rose Parker, helping charities and not-for-profit organisations to demonstrate the impact of their work creatively and visually. The Evaluator uses the tagline “We’ll figure it out for you”.

Ultimately, we are often ‘measuring the unmeasurable’ and fixing problems on a day-to-day basis. The tasks included in this work range from data capture, face-to-face consultations, telephone calls, research, analysis, report-writing, visual data creation, presenting information, and creative problem solving.

As the business is growing fast we need more freelance support, and are looking for people who have some of the following skills. Please note, we don’t need you to be able to do everything and we do really value honesty, so if one or more skills is not your ‘bag’, tell us!

We want people who:

  • Love numbers and have qualifications in maths, and ideally statistics. Do you have an analytical mind? Do you love a spreadsheet?
  • Love language and are a wordsmith. Can you write brilliantly? Concisely? Do you have a great style?
  • Are creative. Tell us what you love to do. Do you like colour, and art and design?
  • Care about making a difference to people’s lives. Do you volunteer for a charity? Have you worked in the not-for-profit sector before?
  • Have amazing people skills. When was the last time a complete stranger told you their life story?
  • Communicate brilliantly. Are you great at public speaking? Can you facilitate a conversation? Carry out staff training?
  • Are honest, reliable, punctual, willing to learn, and enthusiastic.

In addition, although not essential:

  • Have you experience of evaluations at all? Either carrying them out or simply taking part? Maybe you have carried out surveys and research in the past?
  • Have you project management skills? Can you plan something out and make sure it is all done in a logical and efficient way?
  • Have you research skills? Tell us about them.
  • Can you think and write strategically?

In return, The Evaluator can offer an exciting and dynamic work opportunity - every day is different, and we are often making a difference to people’s lives. This is work that means something.

We are looking for freelance individuals who are happy to work from home, able to travel to East Lancashire occasionally for meetings, and happy to travel around as part of the work undertaken. The majority of the work is currently in the North West and Yorkshire regions, but may grow. We want to build a relationship with our freelancers, you will be the face of The Evaluator and will need to be professional at all times. We are happy to negotiate a fixed amount of work if preferred.

Rate of Pay

Rate of Pay: £175 per day, or £25 per hour. You must be responsible for your own tax and insurance, and prove this with a UTR number, have access to a car which is insured for business use and be willing to travel (please note travel costs are not paid extra), and have appropriate professional indemnity and public liability insurance.

How to apply

To apply; please send a two-page summary addressing the skills we are after, and a CV to: by 5pm on Monday 16th December 2019. 

Thursday, 7 November 2019

The Evaluator working with British Gymnastics Foundation

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new partnership, working with British Gymnastics Foundation on their ground-breaking dementia programme, Love to Move, which is funded by Sport England.

Dementia steals loved ones, lives, and memories - but it doesn’t have to be this way….

The Love to Move programme is an age- and dementia-friendly seated gymnastics programme, which is transforming the lives of people living with dementia.

It's even been featured on BBC Breakfast! You can see the video here. 

The Evaluator is initially working with British Gymnastics Foundation to carry out a Social Return on Investment for the programme. We will be designing new methods and tools to evaluate experiences of those taking part - whether that is those with dementia who are participating, staff in some care homes who are looking after dementia sufferers, or families and unpaid carers who are observing changes in their loved ones.

The chair-based exercise programme makes the two halves of the brain work together in innovative ways, and The Evaluator is excited to use some of the techniques developed here to collect information. Hopefully, The Evaluator's work will also break some ground!

You can find out more about the project here.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Designing evaluations for children and young people

As evaluation consultants, we are always designing new evaluation methods and makings sure our evaluation tools are fit for purpose.

Evaluating the experiences of children and young people is not exactly the same as evaluating adults. Questions for children and young people need to be short and very simple. You have to make the questions five to seven words long.

Let's look at an example. Sometimes we are evaluating physical health, and whether people eat healthily.

An adult question might look like;

In the last two weeks, on how many days did you exercise?
Answer options; None/ 1-3/ 4-6/ 7-9/ 10-13/ Everyday

It's not a complicated question, but this would be quite difficult for children aged 6-9 years old.

We can change this to:

It won't give us as detailed information, but there is no point in collecting information if the children and young people guess an answer or leave it blank.

We use similar questions for healthy eating:

As you can see the language is simple, the answers are simple, and we have used faces to illustrate the answer.

Then, and this is the most important part, test the question on some actual children and young people. We checked these questions with around twelve different children, ranging in ages from 5 to 9 years old. Once we knew all these children understood the questions and could answer them, we then tested it with the project we were actually evaluating.

It worked really well and we are now collecting useful data from lots of different children and young people who take part in a project with one of our clients.

To summarise: keep evaluation simple, keep it short, and make it as visual as you can if you are working with children and young people.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The Evaluator working with Ripon YMCA

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new partnership with Ripon YMCA, helping them to measure the impact on their young people which comes from having a secure home.

Ripon YMCA has space for young people who have nowhere to live, they offer supported housing to some of the most vulnerable young people in the area; care leavers, those who have suffered family breakdown, people with mental health problems, addictions and anger among other tribulations.

The Evaluator is going to be working closely with the organisation to help them refine their data collection systems; so they accurately can understand their impact and communicate that quickly and clearly to funders and donors.

Measuring the impact of feeling safe, is going to be really important in this project. The Evaluator is going to be running a workshop with the young people who live there too, to make sure their voices are included; it's a participatory project.

You can see more about Ripon YMCA here.

Monday, 7 October 2019

You can't win them all!

We announced a while ago that our director, Kirsty Rose Parker, was a finalist in the EVA awards 2019.

Sadly, she didn't win. The winner in her category was an amazing photographer; with national photography prizes under her belt and a London exhibition of her work, alongside articles in national newspapers.

"She also had some really great photographs of cows and how can you compete with that!" Kirsty explained.

However, Kirsty had a great night.

"Networking with so many inspirational women was fantastic. Just on my table was a lovely woman who had set up a charity, called Spoons, which supports families who have premature babies in hospitals. Kirsten, the founder, had a son who was born at 24 weeks and survived and is healthy and her experience of spending months with a baby in NICU had inspired her to help others who are in the same boat" Kirsty explained.

You can read more about the charity here - and Spoons was lucky enough to receive £1000 worth of donations on the night! How wonderful was that?

Also on Kirsty's table was the winner of the lifetime achievement inspirational woman; Susanna Lawson, who set up OneFile Ltd which is an online portfolio for apprentices, and which will support 1 million learners by 2020. You can read more about OneFile here.

Kirsty says "Susanna really was amazing, a very impressive businesswoman, I can see why she won such a fantastic award"

Overall, a good night was had by all!

Kirsty concludes; "to be a finalist - one of the last 45 women from over 1000 applicants/ nominees is still a pretty amazing feeling."

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Evaluation Tips Series;

This is part three in our evaluation tips series, you can see part one here and part two here.

Once you have decided on your demographics, it's time to look at the specifics of what it is you are trying to change or measure.

Are you trying to make people more connected? Less lonely? Then you can keep it simple and ask people how often they go out, repeat this at the end and see if there is an average change – or an individual change. Or you could ask do you have enough friends?

If your project or activity will have an impact on people's emotions and well-being, the Warwick Edinburgh Scale of Wellbeing is a really useful tool. You can see more about this here. 

A number of projects recently have been helping people back to employment. You can simply measure if people do get a job or go back into training or into volunteering. Often, though, this misses the majority of the journey. People who have never worked, might take a long time and need a lot of support to get back to employment. They might not get a job during the majority of the project, but you have made a difference in their live. In order to show this effectively, we have created a journey back to work road-map. It shows all the steps people may take on their journey from not working, to building confidence and skills.

You might want to measure if people had fun, if they moved more or were more physically active. Did they visit the doctor less or use less medication or support services? Did you change their attitudes or did they learn something new? For example, in a recent project about suffragettes we asked people to name any prominent suffragettes at the beginning and then again at the end and showed how many more people could talk about on a graph.

You might want to understand people's motivation and it can be helpful to find out why people wanted to be involved, and what attracted them. If you ask enough people too, what they think might motivate others, or what might make a better project, you can use this information to improve your services. These kind of questions do need to be specific, you can’t just ask, ‘what motivates you to do this?’ It's much better to ask something like ‘Why do you think people volunteer?’, and give five answers to choose from and an ‘other’ option. 

Some good questions to ask include:

  • Did you enjoy yourself? 
  • Would you recommend this to a friend? 
  • How often were you active in the last two weeks? (Ask at the start and again at the end and see what the change is).
  • How often did you visit the GP in the last three months? (Ask at the start and again at the end and see what the change is). 
  • Are you content with your employment status? 
  • Did you make friends? 
  • Do you leave the house as much as you want to? 
  • Does your health stop you from doing everything you want to? 

Don’t forget the staff! 
Staff, Volunteers, Artists and Providers can all be a useful source of information. You could get staff to assess people at the start and again at the end or you could ask staff what they thought worked well and what would they change?

Example; questions about marketing:
  • How did you hear about the project / activity?
  • Did you tell a friend?
  • Did you mention this on social media?
  • How should we share this?
  • Where should we send a press release?
    • Or ask staff: What marketing method was most successful?

These are just a sample of the kind of questions you might want to ask. These are questions which are mostly used with adults. We will talk about children and young people in another article. 

If you are in doubt; or feeling unsure about what to ask... here are some core questions. Asking just these will give you a really strong basic evaluation.
  • What did you enjoy the most? 
    • Or Staff: What worked best?
  • What did you enjoy the least?
    • Or Staff: What worked the least?
  • What could we do better?
    • Or Staff: What do you think could have gone better?
  • Would you recommend to a friend? 
    • Or Staff: Would you run this again?

Above all, keep it simple. People are more likely to understand simple questions and that makes them more likely to answer. We will talk about ways to collect information in part four. Impact is often all about ‘what changed’  so don't forget to ask something at the start, repeat it at the end and see what the change is.