We helped Cumbria Community and Voluntary Service (CVS) to understand and evidence the impact of a multi-million-pound participant-led employability programme.
Using mixed methods research, validating our decision to form a partnership, and a collaborative approach to delivery with co-design and co-analysis at its heart, we told the story of a complex programme through comprehensive analysis, hard-hitting observations and a range of reports and presentations for various audiences.
The impact of social research takes time and can be hard to demonstrate. But our research is already being used to shape the way similar projects are delivered in the area and strengthen funding bids. It has led to Cumbria CVS partnering with the NHS to address barriers to employment locally. All of which should positively impact the local community long-term.
● Summative evaluation
● Data analysis and survey design
● Qualitative research and analysis
● Evaluation and learning report
We decided to ‘go it alone together’, setting up PS Research as one research collaboration between two independents, bringing together the best of what each of us do: quant and qual. This combination lent itself perfectly to a project like the evaluation of Cumbria’s ‘My Future’ employment programme. The nature of such a large European-funded project meant they were sat on a lot of data, but it was also a complex, challenging topic where understanding lived experience and outcomes through qualitative methods was key. Blending the two resulted in a rounded picture of the programme and some clear recommendations and next steps.
We delivered mixed methods research to evaluate the impact of an innovative, multi-million-pound participant-led employment programme in Barrow-in-Furness, one of the most deprived areas in the country. At a time when our nation is going through a cost-of-living crisis with rising poverty levels, this kind of research has never been more important. As researchers, whilst we don’t directly work with people in poverty, we believe we can play an integral role in supporting and shaping the organisations that do.
What was our role?
Our role was to understand and evidence what a successful outcome is for the project. It wasn’t as simple as measuring how many participants moved into employment. It was about understanding the context and the lives of the people entering the programme and evidencing the many barriers they faced to getting a job. Our analysis showed that people entering the programme had been ‘economically inactive’ for an average of 18 months and one in four did not have any secondary school qualifications. Two in five participants lived in one of the most deprived areas in the country and seven in ten lived in a jobless household. Using qualitative methods with project staff and then beneficiaries we were able to show the human stories behind these statistics and showcase the importance of identifying alternative measures of success, such as how the support from the programme increased self-confidence, with one participant feeling confident enough to start making eye contact with others again.