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Understanding and improving our impact in young people's lives. 
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News

We won’t be Gathering this year
With no small measure of sadness and regret, we’ve decided not to host our annual Gathering this year. The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably affected conferences and events across the social sector, with many exciting sessions and discussions moving online. This includes a number of events in early November, when the Centre would normally hold our annual Gathering, so we’ve decided that we won’t add more into potentially busy calendars before the end of 2020. 
 
Like many others, we’re waiting to see what 2021 will bring, but we plan to convene either one or a series of shorter events in March next year. We will miss seeing so many of you this year, but there will be no shortage of things to talk about when we meet again!  
 
New opportunities to join the Youth Programme Quality Intervention pilot
We’re pleased to announce that, following a COVID-induced pause,  we are restarting the Youth Programme Quality Intervention (YPQI) pilot, an innovative observation-based quality of practice process, developed in the US by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
 
We’re now recruiting for new organisations to join the pilot from October onwards. Training and support will be provided free of charge, and predominantly delivered online. We will be focusing on quality coaching and understanding the relationship between quality and impact initially, alongside working with pilot organisations to understand more about their provision during social distancing. 
 
We’re looking for organisations that are keen to join a community committed to ongoing quality improvement, using a structured framework for observing and self-assessing your practice as a team. If this sounds like you, please complete this brief form and we’ll be in touch with you directly, to discuss the programme in more detail.
 
Trustee Recruitment
We’re looking to appoint two new trustees to join our dynamic board – specifically a treasurer and a trustee with strategic comms experience. We are seeking two credible and influential individuals with a belief and passion for the Centre’s work, practical experience of engaging with strategy and leadership, and of helping to develop and grow an organisation towards high performance.
 
If you have excellent financial management skills or a background in strategic comms and brand management, then we’d like to hear from you. Both role descriptions can be found here and here. If you have any questions about either role, please email Bethia McNeil, CEO at bethia.mcneil@youthimpact.uk to arrange an informal conversation.
 
Becoming a remote organisation – and a tale of collaboration 
At the start of lockdown, the team at the Centre - like many others - made the overnight move to home working. For us, this meant leaving our shared office space with Renaisi, with whom we’ve been co-located since April 2017. Sadly, we didn’t just leave for a few months, but permanently, having made the decision to become a fully remote organisation in the face of so much uncertainty about the future. 
 
The Centre’s Operations Manager, Sarah Rose, has shared some reflections on what our relationship with Renaisi has meant to us over the last three years. You can read her blog here
 
Although the Centre’s small team is based remotely, our new registered address is: Suite 222, 254 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9JY. Please use this for all written correspondence.
 
Data Standard v 1.1
Back in April, Ed, our Director of Practice Development, marked the launch of the first version of the youth sector data standard  by referring to the old joke about asking directions and being told that “you don’t want to start from here”.  We have now moved on - from there to here - and can present the results of our second survey, building on and expanding that first version.  Read the full blog here.
 
The impact of open access youth work – a new narrative review 
Partnership for Young London, the Centre for Youth ImpactLondon Youth, and the Young People's Foundations have come together with a bold vision for young Londoners, to create the conditions for the services and support for young people to be:
  • More informed by research, practice and the experiences of young people themselves; and
  • More joined up through local and regional collaboration; and thus more effective.
This is a two-year funded programme by City Bridge Trust as part of the Cornerstone Fund. We want to generate, mobilise and utilise knowledge and insight to change the life chances of young people. 
 
As part of the programme of work, a new report has just been published exploring the available research evidence on the impact of open access youth work. The report can be accessed here. We have also pulled together an accessible bibliography, so that all the free-to-access readings that fed into the review can be found in full, quickly and easily. The list of reading is here
 
Diving into COVID survey data, part 3
We are continuing to work with the National Youth Agency to collate surveys exploring the impact of the pandemic on young people and the youth sector. We have found over 130 to date. Adam Peel, Research and Learning Manager at the National Youth Agency, has been taking a regular look at the surveys and the emerging insights, and has written a third blog, with a focus on education. You can read Adam’s latest blog here and the first two in the series can be found here and here.
 

Our Thoughts

In this section of the newsletter, our team members set out what’s currently occupying their thoughts. This month, Project Manager, Catherine Mitchell, thinks about Just fourteen questions…
 
Back in May, our Asking Good Questions survey took on a new form as ‘Just One Question’, a quick way for youth practitioners to respond to one key multiple-choice prompt each week, specifically in response to COVID. Over 200 of you have shared your views at some point since then – thank you! We’ve covered a range of topics:
  • The challenges and implications of adapting delivery: including online provision, detached youth work, and resuming face-to-face services
  • Listening and responding to feedback from young people
  • Your experience of work - how you’re feeling about it, and your ongoing training and support needs
The first theme in particular is one that we have returned to on multiple occasions, as the rapidly-evolving context has required the sector to respond and adapt almost constantly since March. In our most recent question, 87% of respondents told us that they expect to continue to adapt their offer over the coming months.
 
In response to other questions, you’ve told us what this has meant for your training and support needs: from navigating new tools and methods, enhanced safeguarding, health and safety procedures necessary for limiting the spread of COVID, and more insight into how to support young people who are not able to engage with provision. When we asked about what you need most, right now, to help you make a positive difference for young people, time and a period where things don’t change were both flagged alongside other more ‘tangible’ needs. You also expressed a desire for ‘a more inclusive approach to rebuilding the sector’ and for ‘the whole sector to have one voice, which is rooted in the core values and principles of youth work.’
 
We now need to think about how we can make best use of both what we’ve learnt up to this point, and the Just One Question tool as a mechanism to help practitioners to build consensus and speak with one voice. Below are some of our ideas so far:
  • For the survey to be most useful, we need to encourage participation from regions that are currently less well represented.
  • Most respondents are also currently based in England (74%), with the next largest proportion working UK-wide (19%). Within England, we’ve seen most sign-ups from Yorkshire and the Humber (21%) and the North East (21%), followed by the North West, South East, Greater London, and the South West. 
  • We can do more to look at how representation varies week-by-week, depending on the question, and at how this data might influence our interpretation of the results.
  • The majority of respondents to date have been managing projects or provision for young people (30%), working directly with young people (22%) or are a CEO/senior leader within a youth organisation (26%). Some respondents are also responding in mixed capacities (e.g. as a staff member in one place, and as a volunteer in another). 
  • We need to think about the value of all response types, and what we’re doing with the answers.
  • There’s a lot of richness in the ‘something else’ comments. Whilst the multiple choice responses are important for the purpose of comparison, sometimes the free-text box draws out perspectives or points that we hadn’t considered. 
  • Repeating questions allows for greater insight and helps to paint a fuller picture of the changing context - what topics would it be useful to revisit at set points?
  • We’ll be re-running the ‘choose two words to describe how you're feeling about your work with young people right now’ prompt in a few weeks, taking inspiration from the way that TeacherTapp have reported on teacher anxiety levels over time.
  • We want to know more about if and how you think the #justonequestion data could be useful.
  • Finally, whilst we’re noticing a pattern to when people respond to the survey (we get - roughly - 60% of responses on a Friday afternoon, right after the survey launches), we don’t know what is driving that engagement. So, that’s our next job and is why we’re going a bit meta with our next question, asking ‘why do you answer the Just One Question survey?’.  
If you have any thoughts about this, I’d love to hear them - please get in touch catherine.mitchell@youthimpact.uk. You can take part here.

What we're reading


Young people and communities
The NYA has released a new report highlighting a rise in mental health issues among young people. Along with young people’s health charity, Brook, and the Children’s Commissioner for England, the report makes a number of key recommendations and launches a joint 10-point plan for young people’s health in response to COVID-19.
 
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has shared some initial reflections from its COVID-19 & Us project, where it have been working with young people to reflect on their experiences of COVID-19 and lockdown. Young people involved have fed into topics such as healthcare experiences during lockdown, identifying and reviewing apps and resources that support mental health and emotional wellbeing, and their experiences, expectations and perceptions of specialist experience groups. The project will continue throughout the year.
 
Finally, Research in Practice has shared a really interesting reflection on how social work and child protection are being creative and helping children and families during the pandemic - and how this could continue beyond lockdown, with potential to ‘renew practice for the better’.
 
Working with young people
This digital resource hub hosts a huge range of resources for digital youth work. It’s helpfully arranged by resource type (training, apps, podcast, article, etc.) as well as by different themes, such as wellbeing, ‘everyone included’, and consent. The hub has been created by YouthLink Scotland with support from key partners.
 
The Federation for Detached Youth Work has been offering a series of online training sessions for youth workers planning to work outside in response to COVID-19 restrictions. There’s still time to sign up for the third session looking at ‘self-awareness as a pre-condition for confident engagement/re-engagement.’
 
Finally, two pieces from both a young person and a youth worker involved with the  ‘I’m not your…’ art project reflect on how the work has helped to open up conversations on of race, racism, class inequalities, knife crime and more, at the Bollo Brook Youth Centre in South Acton, west London.
 
Learning, evaluation, and quality work
Fontane Lo and Kim Ammann Howard ask ‘why is evaluation so white?’ on the James Irvine Blog, following a series of listening sessions with California-based evaluators of colour who work with philanthropic clients. It accompanies a new briefing paper that asks ‘what will it take to support leaders of color in philanthropic evaluation?’, sharing the experiences of and challenges faced by evaluators of colour, and presenting a number of key recommendations for funders committed to prioritising racial equity work.
 
This blog from Jara Dean-Coffey, Director of the Equitable Evaluation Initiative, also prompted a lot of thinking about the role of (and tensions between) individuals, organisations, and systems in shifting the evaluation paradigm, and interrogating and bettering our practice. It’s part of a series focusing on tensions and practicing what we preach – not pursuing perfection.

Better Evaluation has shared a series on Adapting evaluation in the time of COVID-19, with their most recent post looking at how to frame the boundaries of an evaluation. Each blog breaks the main objective into smaller tasks, with advice and resources to support each one.
 
Finally, as part of the Cornerstone project, on 11 September there will be an online panel session with youth organisations focusing on the benefits of engaging with research. The introductory session will bring to life why youth organisations should engage with research: what it is and how it looks within the sector, the potential benefits, and a ‘how to’ taster. Sign up here.
 
If you have any questions or comments about anything featured in this newsletter, please Tweet us @YouthImpactUK or get in touch at hello@youthimpact.uk
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