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09 March 2015

Monday 9 March 2015

This blog was originally published for the Centre for Youth Impact's website:

http://www.youth-impact.uk/what-we-do/discussion-and-collaboration/

Rosie Ferguson, Chief Executive at London Youth, reflects on the learning from their impact journey

Over the last two years, we at London Youth have implemented a robust outcomes framework so that we can say with confidence that the work we do makes a positive impact. We can now clearly state the visible changes we see in young people as a result of our work – and share this learning so that practice and policy improve and there is greater investment in what works. Aside from encouraging more investment in good youth work, here are five tangible ways that measuring impact has changed our organisation for the better…

1.     Our delivery staff are more engaged

While there was initially some sceptics among our staff and members that impact measurement was a ‘bean-counting exercise’ and not about young people, going through our journey of change process with delivery teams has sharpened the focus on the changes their work has and recognised the expertise of delivery staff in defining and facilitating the difference we make. Our sports development team, for example, now proudly share their impact data with participating youth clubs to encourage more data collection.

2.     Our planning is evidence-based

London Youth runs an annual planning framework; but historically decisions have been based on intuition and hunch. As we enter our 15-18 planning process, each team has clear data on process and impact to help inform how they evolve their work. Coupled with a more systematic approach to reviewing external evidence, this makes for better planning focused on young people’s needs.

3.     Our senior team discussions are more focused on impact

Having a whole load of quantitative data that we didn’t have before has changed the conversations we have at our senior team. As well as talking about finance and people processes, we now talk about why confidence is delivered more consistently than relationship skills across our work and how to allocate resources to increase impact. This enables far more strategic discussions based on real data and results.

4.     Our facilitation skills have improved

We identified through our first year of data capture that – while we are having statistically significant impact on young people’s social and emotional capabilities – they themselves do not always report that they are learning anything and therefore are unable to articulate what they have gained from experiences when they go to job interviews, for example. As a result of this data we are now providing facilitation skills tools and training for our staff and members to increase the amount of reflection time in our work with young people.

5.     We can better articulate how our diverse offer fits together

London Youth offers a range of opportunities across sports, youth social action, employability and outdoor education. Developing a journey of change for each team helped us see the coherence in our offer. Most striking is our impact on confidence across the board in what we do, demonstrating that it matters less what opportunities young people take part in and more that they are quality opportunities led by skilled adults with a chance to try new things.

London Youth has recently launched its first learning report detailing more about our approach to impact and what we’re doing next. Find this here: https://londonyouth.org/learning