Beth Collinson will be joining the Fulfilling Lives national evaluation team from April 2019 leading on our learning programme. In this, her first blog, she talks about the inspiration gained from attending a recent event held by one of the Fulfilling Lives partnerships.
Throughout my PhD, the social contagion of recovery (from substance misuse), became a predominant element of my work. In one of my first presentations, I explained that just as human emotions like happiness can be contagious, recovery is too. A colleague of mine (Professor David Best) explains in his work that the social contagion of recovery has the potential for “transmitting hope and the belief that recovery is possible even to those who are not yet ready to commit to abstinence“.
The national evaluation team have published key findings from local evaluations in their latest report, Promising Practice. The report:
- Highlights approaches and interventions that appear promising based on local evaluation evidence;
- Shares learning on successful implementation of these approaches;
- Considers how different interventions are contributing the the programme’s systems change ambitions; and
- Informs further evaluation activities.
It’s now six months since I joined the Fulfilling Lives national evaluation team. My background is in community and criminal justice research, so I have a degree of familiarity with the target group. I have evaluated initiatives to help re-engagement on release from prison, to provide pathways to education and ultimately employment, and to help with accommodation and independent living. Offenders often have chaotic lifestyles and multiple needs including experience of homelessness, alcohol and/or drug dependency, and/or mental health issues. You can often find childhood trauma, special educational needs or attachment issues as well. What struck me time and time again when listening to offenders and their workers tell me their stories was the lack of coherent support available to people who are in desperate need of help.
The latest national evaluation report on the Fulfilling Lives (Supporting People with Multiple Needs) programme, published today by CFE, shows continuing high demand for help. The 12 funded projects have successfully engaged with nearly 3,000 people affected by homelessness, substance misuse, offending and mental ill health.
Beneficiaries who remain with the programme show clear signs of progress, but this takes time and substantial resource. Project staff often need to spend extended periods of time with beneficiaries and have to be flexible to cope with chaotic lives. However some beneficiaries have needs for which they will always require support. What constitutes success varies from person to person and in many cases, success is about developing strategies, resilience and understanding to effectively manage their needs.
The report includes clear messages and promising practice, providing recommendations not just for those who work to support people with multiple needs, but also for service commissioners and funders.
Read the full report here: http://mcnevaluation.co.uk/wpfb-file/annual-report-2017-v1-final-pdf/
At the centre of the Fulfilling Lives (Multiple Needs) programme is evaluation and here the workforce is on the frontline. For it is they who source, collate and complete the two key measures – the Homelessness Outcomes Star and the NDT Assessment – with the service beneficiaries. Frontline workers say something they enjoy about the programme is the move away from a purely target driven approach. To make the most of this we need to make sure that the essential evaluation is not a chore. Not tasks that are completed as an add-on to a day’s work but ones that are integral to the way of working alongside beneficiaries and peer workers.
It is, perhaps, self-evident that people with complex needs frequently require correspondingly multiple and complex responses…. wrote Henwood and Hudson in their 2009 CSCI study Keeping it personal. Now as Carers’ Week passes we have, in the Care Act, the strongest rights yet for carers. When put together with the duty of assessment for young carers, in the Children and Families Act, the legislative framework is suitably reflective of the very complexity identified for policy makers five years ago. It is a challenge for the Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs evaluation to explore, understand and share how project investment resolves the problematic issues of real life complexity. Those involved in caring relationships shaped by homelessness, criminal behaviours, substance misuse and fragile mental health are potential benefiting contributors to making the most of that significant investment. The evaluation process has to identify both the benefits and contributions of carers to the success of Fulfilling Lives. Continue reading
The parliamentary ‘ping-pong’ is over, amendments agreed between the Lords and the Commons and the Care Act has Royal Assent. Everyone – local authorities, NHS bodies, public, voluntary and private organisations – are busy assessing the potential impact of the new law on what they do. How will it help/hinder; what are the gaps; what are the costs; what will we do now and what can wait; which clauses take priority; who is going to do what and how will we cope? The questions go on and the project and risk management training is put to the test. Projects will be making similar judgements themselves and the national evaluation team too will be considering how it might impact on our work on Fulfilling Lives; Supporting people with multiple needs. Continue reading
The Big Lottery Fund is today (12th Feb) awarding £112 million across England to end ‘the revolving door of care’ faced by thousands of people with multiple problems including homelessness, mental ill health, addiction and reoffending.
The grants of up to £10 million to 12 areas across the country will help to improve and create better coordinated services to prevent people living chaotic lives being passed between charities and services, which often cannot individually deal with their wide range of needs. Continue reading
I joined the evaluation team for the BigLF funded ‘Fulfilling Lives – Supporting people with multiple needs’ in January 2014. As a result, my first contact with any of the projects delivering the initiative was at the launch of the learning activities on 22nd January. Continue reading
It’s not uncommon for evaluators to be called in at the last minute when a service or project is coming to an end (and running out of money) and being asked to ‘prove that it works’. And preferably by the end of the month please! So you appreciate you’re onto a good thing when you get the chance to work on a large-scale evaluation over an eight year period and you get involved in that work before the service delivery actually starts.