This weeks blog is written by PPI-NI’s local – and international – Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist, Laura Agnew.
On Monday 22nd August 2016 (yes 2016, that’s not a typo!), 18 of our senior participants gathered in the Agape Centre to find out about a very exciting project that they were going play a part in. And not just any old part…the main part! PPI-NI was undertaking a youth-led outcome evaluation – the first of its kind across any of the PeacePlayers sites – where these young people were asked to take the lead role in evaluating the PeacePlayers programme in Northern Ireland.
They went through a journey of M&E training, data collection from 120 of their peers, analysing their results and writing it all up in a glossy, colourful report. But why spend 17 months undertaking a project like this? What’s the point? Well, the four words making up the title of this project – youth led outcome evaluation – sum up exactly what the point of this project is and why it’s important.
Our participants are always our priority. They are the reason we do what we do, and so this project was a perfect way to create a space for authentic co-design to involve them in a new way. We want to listen to the amazing ideas and opinions that they have and give them a platform to voice them. All too often young people are underestimated, but at PPI-NI we really do believe in their voice and are so glad 18 of our youth led this project with over 120 others feeding into it. So that’s a lot of great insights we’ve learned just by listening to them!
We soon realized we were going to be almost leading the way within the world of M&E. After the decision was made to take on this project, we started to research similar projects to get some inspiration or recommendations on our methodologies. But we soon realized that youth-led approaches are not very common, and we were actually going to be one of the very few organizations in the world that had done something like this. This was daunting but made us want to do it even more! And we hope our positive experience and methodology can help others out there who want to give it a go!
At PPI-NI we always try to ensure we are achieving our strategic outcomes, and always look at how to make our programme the best it can be for our participants. No one is better placed to inform our programme development than those at the heart of it, so what better way to improve than to have our participants involved in that improvement process! They were able to look at our outcomes and dig into the parts that they felt were really important to them at that time. They explored routes we may not have gone down or even thought of. Consequently, we have some very exciting results and recommendations thanks to them that we can apply to the organisation!
We now have 18 young people experienced in how to conduct an evaluation of a community relations through sport programme. At PPI-NI, we talk about “being in the business of doing ourselves out of business” which is developing the capacity of our young people to do this work in the future rather than us. We recognized that investing in the engagement of youth within our M&E processes would allow us to do this, and it’s been amazing! They have used this evaluation as an opportunity to inform our future strategic plan and shape the future of PPI-NI, and we’re very excited about what they will do for us next!
So yes, a youth-led approach is almost unchartered territory in the M&E world, but it’s so exciting to be a part of and has proved to be extremely beneficial for us. As said earlier, the power of young people is all too often underestimated, but involving them and giving them a voice through projects like this is one of the smartest and most rewarding things we can do!
*editors note: if you have any further questions or would like to read the evaluation, feel free to contact Laura via email at firstname.lastname@example.org