What we’ve heard from the evaluation

I have just finished reading the Centre of Youth Impact’s mid-point evaluation of the Listening Fund Scotland. When reading I was reminded of a time when I was interviewed for a post. I was asked about the purpose of evaluation. I used a picture of myself climbing and talked about trying something, reflecting (more accurately being scared), practicing and then doing it all again! The similarities, the process of learning. The connection when reading the Centre of Youth Impact’s mid-point review was the committed nature of both myself on a rockface and the funded partners to listening and learning.

When the Listening Fund Scotland was established one of the main aims was to work alongside the charities funded (funded partners) to capture learning and experiences. The purpose was to be reflective and share knowledge that could have practical benefit for others. Although I already knew this, the report again highlighted that the funded partners represent an inspiring group of individuals who are up for this journey. If we are truly to enable children and young people’s voices to be heard, then it starts with a commitment to learning. It is also worth noting that this practice extended to the funders. The Centre of Youth Impact looked at the involvement of children and young people in the design and decision-making of the Listening Fund Scotland.

Comparing the baseline and midpoint survey responses gave a real insight into the values that underpin the Listening Fund Scotland. The report suggests that the funded partners have ensured protected time to listen and are participating in reflective practice. The report suggests that funded partners haven’t always found it easy. It has needed time and resources to work in this way. However, what is clear, if we want children and young people to get involved we need to invest in the right support.

As part of the Listening Fund Scotland we always knew that the funded partners were at different stages of their own journey. It was never going to be about comparison. I therefore really welcomed seeing the marked increase in importance that all partners placed on the role that listening practices played in organisational strategy.

There was evidence of improving practices in other areas too; through increasing opportunities to hear from children and young people; and acknowledging this space for them to then influence. This to me really shows the ability of funded partners to try new things. A further encouraging sign that embedding listening works.

Funders involved in the set-up of the Listening Fund Scotland took the importance of listening seriously. Time was taken to work alongside children and young people in the design and decision-making processes of the fund. The report talks about how valuable this felt to the children and young people involved, and how it at times challenged funder assumptions. Moving forward to be truly responsive, we need to open these opportunities up further; creating spaces to listen and act on what children and young people feel is needed from this fund.

The findings are hugely encouraging in terms of what has been established so far. They show that the Fund offers the space for progressive ideas to be embedded as the foundation of listening and learning cultures. Over the next few months more insights and practical steps will be shared, inspired by a listening approach.

Girl blowing up pink balloon