Papworth research and Consultancy

I found the evaluation report well balanced and informative – it provided us with information and views we didn’t know at the time of commissioning the evaluation and I found this very beneficial.

Thornhill Plus You New Deal for Communities

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Evaluation of Advice for the Future

Date: September 2014 – June 2015
Client: Rushmoor Citizens Advice Bureau
Advice for the Future was a two year (July 2013 to June 2015) Advice Services Transition Funded project, which aimed to develop, and test the sustainability of, new ways to enable people to access advice services. The project set out to:

• Develop a drop-in advice service and a video about Job Seekers Allowance for the Nepali community, in partnership with the Gurkha Welfare Centre;
• Work with a variety of partner organisations to develop outreach services;
• Collaborate with Step by Step, which provided support for young people facing homelessness and had developed a sophisticated peer education model, to develop peer education approaches to advice dissemination;
• Refurbish a conference room and develop an IT suite;
• Develop an online referral tool to enable agencies in the area to cross-refer vulnerable clients and share data.

Through consultations with project staff and managers, partner agencies and peer education volunteers, Rachel evaluated the effectiveness of the project and made recommendations for sustainability planning.

Here's a summary of the project from Alex Hughes, Rushmoor CAB's Chief Executive.

"We were facing some key challenges in relation to our project, due to staff changes and new directions being trialled, responding to local and national developments.

We realised the loss of the project manager had impacted on overall direction and focus, as well as highlighting the importance of external evaluation to ensure we made best use of the remaining nine months of a two year project.

As a result of Rachel’s review and findings, we have gained hugely in confidence and understanding of the project achievements, and learnt to value more highly some of the informal developments and ideas which have contributed to successes. We have moved from a position where we were focusing on “number crunching” to having a wider appreciation of the learning and development enabled by the project.

Rachel demonstrated a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the particular challenges in working with vulnerable groups, recognising that traditional methods of analysis may not be appropriate in all cases.

Her use of incisive and careful questioning helped to draw out the real achievements behind the project, whilst not being afraid to challenge and ask the more difficult questions to get to the root of problems.

She appreciated the challenges faced by loss of staff, and made helpful, practical suggestions as to how the remaining period of the project could be best used to meet broader project objectives. Her experience in working in similar fields proved very beneficial, enabling her to challenge in a way which was both informed and supportive.

Her final report has helped to pull together a narrative which is realistic as well as highlighting successes and ideas for future work".

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