Participatory evaluation of Step-Up Transitions.
In December 2015 the Tavistock Institute was commissioned by Rethink to provide a cost-effective, robust and innovative research approach to their Step Up programme.
Step Up is a three-year programme that will end with an evaluative report co-produced by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) and Step up champions. The evaluation aims to explore the personal impact of interventions on individual beneficiaries’ mental health and experience of life transitions. The champions include more than fifteen young people aged between 16-25 years who have been recruited to co-design the Step up programme and carry out a range of activities with participants. The champions have lived experience with mental health issues and play a vital role in the co-production of the programme. When a service is co-produced it brings a new dynamic to how the programme functions as it has been co-designed by people who have personal insight and expertise when it comes to experiencing services provided.
Throughout the evaluation, the champions will play a proactive role by participating, with the assistance from the TIHR team, in designing surveys, keeping reflective diaries and leading focus groups with participants. By undertaking these activities the young champions are increasing their range of skills through learning from experience and getting more involved with understanding the different elements of carrying out research and collecting information for an evaluation report.
In February 2016, TIHR held a workshop with the champions and Rethink staff, where participants were involved in developing a Theory of Change map. This mapping process helped identify and test assumptions behind the project’s aims, identify ‘how’ and ‘why’ things happen and what needs to be delivered to create the change desired by the programme. As a result a whole programme Theory of Change Map was created as well as a map relating specifically to the champions’ role. Additionally, A Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) was undertaken which focused on the specific mental health and wellbeing objectives of Step Up and explored any potential negative impacts that may arise from delivery of Step Up. Both the Theory of Change and MWIA outcomes were used to develop questionnaires for participants and evaluation questions relating to champions’ experiences. An Action Learning Set has been held with members of the project team – Rethink staff, champions and a project partner, which provided a useful space to reflect on the project’s achievements so far, its evaluation and future plans. TIHR are continuing to work with champions and Rethink staff to develop and implement evaluation activities during Year One, with focus group training for champions taking place in August and the first focus groups being run in September 2016. Most recently, additional young champions have been recruited to work specifically on evaluation activities.
Using co-production to develop an informative piece of evaluation has so far proved to be a successful method of supporting young people to develop evaluation and research skills and ensure that evaluation methods and activities are co-designed and co-delivered, informed by the lived experience of those whose experiences are being evaluated.
The Step Up evaluation will continue until August 2018 when the full evaluation report of the programme will be completed.
Find our more about the participatory evaluation of Step-Up Transitions.