Young evaluators set sail for success
The Centre for Youth Impact is leading an evaluation into the impact of youth voice within the #iwill Fund. The project is seeking to understand the scale and the key enablers and barriers to effective youth voice practices within youth social action. As part of the project, we have recruited a group of young people to help steer, design and lead the evaluation.
From Jo and the Panel
We (the Young Evaluators Panel, but affectionately known as ‘YEP’) finally met physically as a team in late October to kick off our work together on this evaluation. There were five key goals for this weekend:
- Have fun!
- Get to know each other and how we would like to work as a team
- Get a good understanding of the evaluation’s activities
- Understand what key strengths and skills are within the team and where members would like to contribute to the evaluation
- Do some specific planning on comms activity for the months ahead
We had a great set up at the youth hostel, with a room for learning sessions in the main building and a residential lodge all to ourselves where we could chill out - this was much needed, the weekend felt quite intense!
The weekend consisted of five key learning sessions:
- What is evaluation? Focused on what defines evaluation over simple ‘research’, the types of data we can collect and why.
- What is this project all about? This session gave us a chance to absorb and ask questions about the evaluation activities.
- Digging into the data trawl. Here we started thinking about what data we might get through this evaluation and how we can/should evaluate it.
- What do we need to share and how? In this session, we brainstormed our comms strategy, and discussed what we think is effective and where our strengths are as a team.
- Developing ways of working. This final session was about establishing how we want to work together moving forward, such as what digital platforms we like to use, how we run our meetings and when.
This all sounds like quite serious stuff, but don’t panic. To prevent total workshop fatigue, we used a mixture of different approaches to keep things interesting. The best bit about in-person work was how easily the conversation flowed (we are so over Zoom…), and we mixed open discussions with working in pairs, a lot of post-it notes, ‘walking and talking’ to keep things dynamic, and even found time for a video shoot. Perhaps most rewarding of all was the fact that we couldn’t see the walls for flipchart paper by the time we left on Sunday!
In danger of committing to all work and no play, we took a sunny (!) break on Saturday afternoon and headed to a local water sports centre to do some kayaking. A brain break was much needed by everyone, and we learnt just how competitive some of the team can be when it comes to ‘revenge’ splashing…
To give you a sense of the kind of team we’ve got working on this evaluation, the awards list for the weekend looked a little something like this…
- Most likely to ask a question: Django
- Most spontaneous: Rorey
- Most trustworthy: Paige
- Biggest moral enthusiast: Amy
- Most likely to be prime minister / president: Claire
- Most likely to beat the chaser: Finlay
- Most like a silent assassin from Killing Eve: Harman
- Male equivalent of Killing Eve assassin: Kevin
- Most direct and to the point: Zunaira
- Best waffler: Jo
- Most likely to have a book published soon: Lucy
Unfortunately a few members of the panel couldn’t join us this weekend, but we’re looking forward to seeing what award they would be nominated for at the next residential (as long as we don’t end up with another silent assassin…).
A final note from Jo…
Here at the Centre, our bread and butter is supporting organisations to develop their evaluation practices. But this project is really allowing us to develop our own evaluation practices, by providing the opportunity to deliver our most participatory evaluation to-date, and directly working with young people at every stage of the evaluation.
We have the expertise and desire within our staff team and it is about time we started leaning into this type of work. We’re really lucky to be able to spend quite a lot of time as a YEP team in this project, with a blended approach of monthly online meetings and four in-person residentials to get the really ‘meaty’ stuff done. Whilst there are ‘boundaries’ to what we can do (we are only funded for so much, and the bid was necessarily written without YEP being in place), We’re excited about the opportunity to put young people’s ideas into action - and there are 10 pretty awesome heads to come up with those ideas!
Whilst there is a lot of learning to be done about youth voice in the #iwill Fund, I have no doubt there is a lot of learning to be done about youth voice here at the Centre, and it is one journey I am really pleased we’ve started.