We’re very excited to finally launch the Final Report of our “ Service User Led Theory of Change review” – funded by the Evaluation Fund of the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse. The report describes in detail the interesting and unique project in which we placed service users at the heart of the design of our evaluation tools.
Basis, Getaway Girls and Women’s Counselling and Therapy Services, as three Leeds based organisations working with girls and female adults who are being sexually exploited at risk thereof or have in the past been a victim of sexual abuse, we were aware of the lack of service user voice in how we would demonstrate the outcomes of our work with this group of young people and adults. This prompted our successful application to the Centre of Expertise, followed by a 6 month process of reviewing a draft Theory of Change including outcomes and indicators and evaluation tools by both staff and current and former service users, with specialist in put by York Consulting.
We were hugely impressed by the time and commitment and above all insights from all of our service users. Although as organisations we work closely with young people and adults when we develop our resources, we had not been in a position to consult them systematically on our evaluation tools and doing so made us realise particularly that language and words matter not only during interventions but also when we are evaluating our work. They successfully helped us to reduce jargon as well as the impact of some “hardhitting” and “intrusive “ questions at the start of our interventions. Other feedback focused on the wording around self-esteem and phrasing outcomes in a more strength based manner. They enabled us to recognise what elements of our work are most relevant to our service users. All their feedback has now been taken into account throughout our organisations.
As a separate outcome of the project, the process also indirectly triggered hugely positive feedback about how specific aspects of our work were particularly valued by our service users such as working in a person centred manner and fighting their corner when they felt no-one else was; “its nice to know someone’s got my back – it make me feel less alone.”
This project has allowed us all to reflect on how we evaluate our work and are grateful to all those involved – the Centre of Expertise for their funding and other support, staff from all partner organisations and above all our service users without whom this would not have been possible.
Gemma Scire Tessa Denham Flavia Docherty