Well after a very long notice period I have left Gateway and started a new venture from scratch. It really is scratch too, I don’t even have a stapler!. So I thought I would introduce myself and what I want to do and see how that goes.
After so many years working with and in communities; social justice and equality is still my first love.
Over the years I have seen many projects and short-term funding schemes to try to tackle the most persistent of problems – inequality and social exclusion. This most difficult and costly area needs long-term commitment, delivered by the people who know it well.
How we are born and what we are born into sets a path for our whole lives. Our family’s economic status gives us a likely indication of our employment status later on (statistically) . So if your mother has never worked, the chances of you never working too, are high. It needn’t be that way and that is what people who work in health, social care, community, voluntary and Third sectors are working on every day. They work on intervening – a set of interventions – I prefer to call this ‘help’
Why inside Outcomes then?
Well having led an Third sector organisation for so long, I saw how services are at risk because they cannot show that their interventions (help) are having an impact. They do great things and they make a difference to the path people are on, and therefore the path of their children, but if it cannot be measured, then it is at risk. With so many cuts in services, organisations are needing to do more than just ‘the right thing’ they have to save money, add value and improve services too.
Evidence is needed. The evidence needs to be robust, relevant and high quality, consistent with national and local targets. This is needed both by commissioners and providers of service, but there are two barriers that I see.
- The greatest strength of community organisations how they understand communities. The need to measure what they do can seem like a distraction or even a detour from their purpose.
- The gold (and only) standard for evidence in health is a Randomised Control Trial. An academic trial, designed at measuring hard outcomes. Excellent for clinical products, not favourable to community interventions
So I am working on a way for organisations to provide robust evidence bases that measure community interventions against national outcomes, without losing their focus on what they do best. This gives providers a strong evidence base and gives commissioners a direct measurement against their own targets.
Commissioners and providers really do want the same things, they just need to talk the same language – data might be the answer, so I am going to be working with my good friends at Data Unlocked and Podnosh to bring it all together.
I would like to work with community organisations and commissioners. They need each other. A new form of equality!