August Reading List
Young people working with Student Minds have published a zine called “This is our Story”, in which they share their personal stories of mental health and mental illness in their own words – through prose, poetry, letters, quotes, images, and other media. The authors have been taking part in the Young Minds Writers Programme over the last 10 months, during which they have received training and support to help them share their stories, influence change, and help other young people through their writing. Along with their stories, the young people share recommendations for tools, resources, and their favourite reads. - Catherine, Organisational Learning and Support Lead
This briefing, produced in a collaboration between the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Mental Health, the Centre for Wellbeing, and The Young Foundation, details the importance of place-based youth leadership for urban wellbeing. The briefing introduces recent research on youth voice, agency, and activism, and highlights the importance of youth leadership, stating that “young people are often overlooked as leaders in their local places, yet they have significant capabilities, local knowledge and influence.” Using case studies, the authors provide evidence that suggests a place-based youth leadership model – a model where young people lead the change that they want to take place within their communities – yields positive results for the people who are a part of these spaces. The briefing provides examples of youth leadership programmes, as well as a distinct list of ideas for action for those interacting and working with young people.– Rammiza, Research and Projects Officer
This article by Kath Hennell identifies the basis for a relationship framework and how this can underpin youth work. The framework suggests that by fostering positive relationships among youth workers, we can support young people to build, develop, and maintain positive relationships themselves. By doing so, we are also enabling young people to develop their socio-emotional skills, and, in turn, strengthen the impact of our provision.
Throughout the article, Hennell explores the four zones of the framework: relationships with self, relationship with others, supporting the relationships of others, and relationships with and within the community. At the College, our education and training curriculum is based on relational practice. Through our training offer, the context of relational practice is more than a conversation. It is a relationship in which people share ideas and experiences, placing high quality, dialogical, and authentic and reflective approaches at the heart of what we do. – Kat, Training and Accreditation Lead
The Equitable Evaluation Initiative (EEI) in the USA has expanded its existing Equitable Evaluation Framework to invite the evaluation sector to shift their practice and purpose of evaluation, emphasising a responsibility to advance equity.
The framework is shaped by a set of principles that evaluation work should be in service of equity, designed and implemented with a commitment towards participant ownership. It states that evaluation work can and should answer critical questions about the ways in which historical and structural conditions have contributed to existing conditions, and the underlying drivers of systemic inequities, whilst also recognising the entanglement between cultural context, structural conditions, and the change initiative itself.
The ‘sticking points’ in this piece allowed for personal reflection on our organisational journey. They offer ways to move through barriers that may arise in doing this work and furthering the conversation, such as inviting vulnerability and risk, defining equity (as means and ends), and reframing current asymmetrical evaluation discourse.
EEI aims to facilitate a shift in existing practices, encouraging a relational approach to evaluation and learning design that creates space and time for learning meaningful practice and deeper engagement. – Zunaira, Research and Projects Officer.
In this latest research, academics at Loughborough University have been examining how the success of sports-based interventions (SBIs) for young people is measured. They report that the metrics used by funders and service providers to measure success, such as attendance and qualifications, often do not align with what young people want to achieve and the value they perceive in participating. Instead, quality, enjoyment of sessions, and building relationships are deemed more important to young people. The research also highlights that young people are often reluctant to disclose personal information with services because they can be sceptical about the reasons why they are being asked this information. This resource is really useful when thinking about monitoring, learning, and evaluation in the context of SBIs, and aligns with new research we’re undertaking at the College into the collection and use of demographic data in the youth sector (watch this space!). – Sarah, Qualitative Research Lead.
This article discusses a new inclusion unit set up by Beacon High School in Islington, London. With a focus on trauma-informed practice, the inclusion unit has provided mentoring support for young people at risk of exclusion. Reading the article, one gets an impression of the qualities required to effectively engage young people who have experienced trauma. It is in the responses of the young people who have benefitted from an inclusive approach that we see just how important it is to have someone they can trust, who is able to empathise, who will be there for them, and someone who has a genuine interest in young people developing the agency required to develop and grow.
Seeing this approach taking a foothold in formal education speaks to the human condition, in that what we need to flourish is not contextual. Herein lies an opportunity to think about the potential alignment of informal, non-formal and formal education as an integrative offer, cutting across pedagogical stereotypes. – Simon, Head of Education
This new guide by Youth Futures Foundation (YFF) shares valuable tips and advice on how autistic young people can be supported in peer research and participation activities. Authored by former members of YFF’s Youth Reference Group, Louise and Caroline, the guide explores why peer research is important and why it is needed, providing useful pointers on how organisations can give autistic young people the chance to respond to information in different ways, consider equitable practices to secure diverse recruitment of young people, and ensure that research and findings are appealing to different styles of learning. – Hannah, Communications Lead
In this blog, the Charities Evaluation Working Group (ChEW) reflects on the equity gap between how programmes in the social sector are designed and delivered, and how they are traditionally evaluated. The authors highlight some of the core themes discussed at a recent workshop that focused on equitable evaluation practice:
Commissioning, planning, and designing evaluation - practitioners are often limited by the terms on which the evaluation has been commissioned.
Data collection and analysis - there is a need for a more trauma-informed approach to the design and delivery of data collection tools.
Reviewing, learning, and acting on findings - evaluations often have questions and methods predetermined by the commissioner, which can render the evaluation experience disempowering for participants.
The evaluation workforce - often the evaluation workforce does not represent the communities it seeks to work with – a clear lack of diversity exists.
Evidence standards - there is a need for wider recognition that qualitative and participatory research can generate high-quality findings.
Add this to your reading list to find out more about why and how the sector can move toward greater equitable evaluation practice – Hannah, Qualitative Research Lead
This recent report by Ecorys UK, in partnership with Participation People and commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), examines the experiences of young people participating in the UK Youth Parliament and Youth Policy Development Group between 2021-2023. The Lundy Model (2007) was used to assess the effectiveness of DCMS’ Youth Engagement programmes. There are a host of valuable insights into youth participation, but what most caught my eye were the conclusions drawn about the evaluation of future programmes, which resonate with the work of our three Centres of Expertise. The report offers recommendations for future DCMS youth engagement programmes to have:
- A theory of change;
- Embedded research and evaluation activities;
- Information monitoring;
- Longitudinal research to track the outcomes of participants; and
- Youth-led research methodologies to ensure a youth-led focus.
If you could also do with some support to get these in place for your programmes, then take a look at our website. – Kaz, Director of Learning
For those of us seeking to influence social impact, data is often used for informing or making decisions, and our analysis capacity is improving hugely. As we build our own data products, this ‘macro-level’ report from data.org and the Patrick J McGovern Foundation, across a huge diversity of contexts of different social impact data eco-systems worldwide, shows two common trends that are influential in my thinking about our products:
Firstly, there is a shortage of data skills amongst those focused on social impact, and especially a shortage of data professionals. Secondly, access to developing these skills is restricted by systemic failings of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.
In short, this report keeps in focus that developing the products in themselves is not sufficient. There is a necessity, and wide benefit to, improving the accessibility of our products to our users, and upskilling both themselves and ourselves. – Adam, Quantitative Research Manager
Each month, we’ll also spotlight a valuable resource sharing insights into equity, diversity, and inclusion. Here’s what our Communications and Partnerships Assistant Erin Metcalfe has been watching this month:
The Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, with the support of Guardianship Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council, has created three short animated videos to share the views of young unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees in the country. The videos, each led by young people, have a specific focus: the importance of adults in supporting integration, the experience of young asylum seekers and refugees in education, and the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis. Whilst not specifically aimed at youth workers, the videos raise awareness of some of the issues young asylum seekers and refugees face, and further supports the need to make systems for young refugees more responsive and meaningful. For example, the young people state that it is important for adults to understand the barriers they face moving to a new country, such as cultural differences, social exclusion, and dealing with trauma. Add these short clips to your watchlist to hear the stories of young asylum seekers and refugees and consider how your youth provision can be tailored to meet the needs of young people with these experiences.