Leading a youth work organisation over the past eight years has been both exciting and exhausting, but always it has remained our biggest accomplishment to date. During a period where nationally youth work has seen decimation to the sector beyond all fears, Kinetic has grown in size, in wealth and in capacity. We have placed a huge emphasis on developing our tools to measure outcomes, outputs and impact. The collation of effective data to evidence the positive impact within the delivery of youth work has been a particular challenge, especially when historically a soft outcomes framework has been accused of avoiding the task of evidencing the real worth of youth work methodologies. The task given to us was simple, ‘evidence to us, beyond reasonable doubt, the impact of your delivery’.
We set about designing our recording tools during senior management meetings, looking at what we had at our disposal to enable us to develop and expand on, alongside creating new innovative ways to identify across all sites good models of data collection. We identified, through consultation with staff, partners, colleagues and young people, what we believed we wanted to evidence. Impact to us was all about behaviours.
We created our ‘Impact Flowchart’ which enabled youth workers and young people the opportunity to work together to identify sets of behaviours that needed to change in order to present the best possibilities of positive outcomes and achievement. Our flow chart identified a starting point and ultimate end goal, allowing individuals to develop a plan to help them change a set of negative behaviours in to positives, leading to improved outcomes and opportunities. This tool alone fell short of evidencing impact, by not encompassing input from all involved, we were ignoring the fact that we were claiming credit where perhaps some would say, credit was not due.
‘We see that you say Kinetic intervention has impacted on the positive changes and outcomes, however, how can you be sure your interventions made the difference?’
Beyond reasonable doubt, meant that we needed to collate data that would show the positive behavioural changes were attributed to our youth work delivery. We designed our ‘Impact Triangulation Diagram’ that supported our team to find data that could be analysed to unequivocally attribute the impact data to Kinetic delivery. We could evidence a reduction in violent behaviours during Kinetic delivery periods in contrast to other areas of delivery (education, visits, movement etc), we could show an increase in engagement through achievement, attendance and behaviours during Kinetic delivery and we could evidence an increase in empowerment that led to reduction of negative behaviours within our delivery sessions.
The team at Kinetic were adamant that the ethos of youth work was not lost and/or the relationships built between young people and their youth workers were not negatively affected, as a direct consequence of the need to evidence our impact, we therefore developed our tools to include young people in the design, the implementation and evaluation processes.
This is and essentially will always be an area in need of development and design, but for now, Kinetic Youth are proud of what we have managed to evidence as ‘the positive impact of our youth work delivery’ across all sites during 2018/2019.
Our annual impact report is out in the public domain, feel free to request a hard or electronic copy.
Director, Kinetic Youth