Why they applied for a grant
This project is a collaboration between YMCA North Tyneside and YMCA Humber who are both dedicated to supporting their local communities. Both work to create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can thrive. The ever-changing needs of the communities they support drives continuous development of their services to remain effective and led them to seek funding to develop a new management approach centred around impact. An ‘Impact Task Force’ was formed at the inception of the project bringing together key members from both organisations plus the Approved Provider, Helmepark Ltd.
The partnership was granted £50,000 as part of the Growth strand of the Impact Management Programme. The project aimed to provide the training, financial resource and strategic support needed to change the day-to-day data systems and impact culture in both organisations.
The project started in September 2017 and has involved working with Helmepark Ltd. to develop their performance management. This included reviewing their current and future data collection, creating a new IT system and training staff to ensure the systems are embedded throughout both organisations.
How their approach has changed
Their project has helped them focus their impact management approach. They had previously worked on a ‘journeys of change’ basis, focusing on the journey of users and key milestones (eg, induction, support planning, leaving the programme), but lacked a tool which would reveal how clients reached milestones through their own internal strengths, actions and personal development. This led them to take a more overtly developmental approach to impact management through a strengths-based model using nine core strengths.
To minimise service disruption the decision was taken to embed the new Strengths Model into their current systems and existing interactions with users. However, this still presented a substantial shift in thinking, from focusing on risks and problems, to focusing on developmental milestones, and a ‘transformation index.’
Matt Wilson, Head of Impact at YMCA North Tyneside said:
‘Our project has given us the headspace and capacity to work on developing an effective data system and culture change as an opportunity, which we previously didn’t have, and it has also allowed us to be cutting edge in our field.’
Staff identified that the project has built their internal and external capacity. The project team now feel well versed in impact management and have been asked to share their advice with colleagues and externally through workshops and peer learning.
It hasn’t always been easy
The increased focus on measuring impact and working in partnership with two different organisations has had its challenges, but the team highlighted relationship building between the two organisations as a key positive outcome of the project. This required lots of joint discussions site visits and Skype meetings, and whilst both organisations previously felt a joint model may be an unrealistic expectation, they are now very happy with the model they have co-created.
Internally, the project also highlighted challenges such as disseminating information to staff, as many staff work in the supported housing section are involved in lone working on different shift patterns, making all-staff training sessions difficult to coordinate.
Balancing systems and culture
A key learning point for both organisations has been the importance of balancing technical systems development with gradual culture change throughout their project. Impact Task Force have found that a key success factor in the project has been to pursue both of those streams of work simultaneously, not allowing one to get ahead of the other.
This isn’t the end
Both organisations are on a journey—the new system and ways of working will take time to implement, and there is more to come. But already both organisations feel that they have a renewed focus on impact and are building an evidence base. This had led them to look at how they can spread the impact of their project more widely. Their learning has already been shared with the other grantees of the programme and was shared at the YMCA Chief Executive’s Network conference in May, with the hope that other YMCAs will adopt the system. They are also looking at how they can use their evidence base to shape local commissioning practices, and to try to move commissioners away from focusing on outputs, to a focus on evidence-based outcomes.