Strengthening our evaluation

30 October 2018

As part our package of support for the recent grants awarded to 20 new projects across England, we invited our new partners to attend a fully funded monitoring and evaluation workshop. The grants were awarded under the Women First Innovation Fund that was launched earlier this year and is part funded by Tampon Tax Funds. The 20 projects were awarded seed funding of up to £10,000 over 12 months for innovative ideas that help to build the skills, confidence and aspirations of women on low incomes to enable them to enter into employment.

The Smallwood Trust has been piloting Triangle’s Outcomes Star Work Star methodology for 18 months. Outcomes Stars are widely used by voluntary organisations large and small, local authorities and NHS trusts in the UK. The Work Star is an evidence-based tool for measuring and supporting change when working with people. The Work Star is based around key outcome areas for someone moving into employment, including job-search skills, stability, health, wellbeing, aspiration and motivation.

The tool is carried out collaboratively by a key worker and beneficiary. The tool shows the distance travelled by a beneficiary over time and is underpinned by a five-stage Journey of Change:

  1. Stuck
  2. Accepting help
  3. Believing and trying
  4. Learning
  5. Self-reliance

The participatory design of the tool means that service users are bought into their own journey of change, providing clear evidence of personal progress.

The workshops were held in Birmingham, Hull, Newcastle, St Helens and Yeovil and were attended by representatives from 18 organisations. The attendees completed the Core Outcomes Star Training and received a certificate from a licensed trainer, meaning they can carry out the methodology for their organisation. This is a sector wide tool that is recognised internationally. We are currently implementing the Work Star with beneficiaries from 25 of our 32 funded partner organisations.

Some feedback from organisations attending the workshops:

“We will be able to map the journey of our beneficiaries in partnership with them more formally”

“The training has inspired us to use across our whole service”

“The tool can help improve self –esteem with service users which could help with engagement and positive outcomes”

Emma Crump, the Trust’s Head of Evaluation, said “we are developing our evaluation methodology to help us identify good practice and what works best in supporting financially vulnerable women. We are also keen to help develop the capacity of the projects we fund and have already seen organisations adopting the Work Star methodology more widely across their work”.