Understanding and developing our programmes using data is part of Street League's DNA. Monitoring and evaluating performance has been at the heart of how we set our strategy, secure investment and ensure we are maximising our social impact. Most of that data has been quantitative with our teams across the U.K. providing an insight to the nuance and the stories that sit behind this. 

As an organisation, it's easy to get into a way of doing things - routines, assumptions and decision-making. We wanted an external evaluation to challenge these and help us look at things differently; from a different perspective and with different data. The team from Brunel University, led by Dr Laura Hills, brought this new insight. Not only were they 'new' to Street League, their methods were much more qualitative, giving greater insight to the journeys of individual participants, our staff and Street League as an organisation

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So now what?: Implementing learning from the Brunel report

Having someone with an outside perspective look at Street League was incredibly valuable. Especially because we were, at this time, taking another step forward on our impact journey. Street League was founded as a positive and inclusive football programme that emphasised participation. We moved toward a more outcome-focused approach in 2010, aiming to help young people move into work, education, and training through the power of football.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we set out to make sure we were helping young people who most needed our support into sustainable employment. We also began diversifying the programmes offered, introducing Dance and then Fitness, to widen our appeal to young people. We felt that having made these kinds of fundamental changes, Street League could benefit from an external evaluation that looked at what helped us succeed and what held us back in our ability to make a meaningful impact.

We learned a lot from the evaluation. Not just the final report but from the questions that we were asked and the constant feedback that the Brunel team offered. This was so important because it meant that we could address things straight away when appropriate (and possible). 

Our team

We are very lucky to have an amazing team, working every day across the UK to help young people move into work. This was highlighted again and again by the Brunel report. The experience of each young person was shaped by the team's ability to create inclusive and fun environments – that don’t feel like a classroom. They also benefited from the fact that our teams go the extra mile in their efforts to support our young people, every day.

It was also clear that we needed to invest more in our team's development and training needs. As youth unemployment decreases they are supporting young people who face increasingly complex challenges. We were also delivering more in-depth programmes with more technical qualifications to help prepare young people more effectively to succeed in the workplace.

We have put in place training across the organisation for staff to feel better equipped to succeed in their roles. We have a Training and Development plan that sees teams across Scotland and England being up-skilled to meet the needs of participants and our organisational strategy in the years ahead. We have also launched Street League’s Employee Recognition Awards, announced quarterly and include the Peer Award, Team Award and a CEO Award for outstanding individual contributions.

The power of sport

The evaluation reminded us of how central sport is to everything that we do, how we do it and the impact that makes on young people's lives. Each of our different sports programmes has unique strengths and challenges but all of our programmes are underpinned by our values and an inclusive and diverse group of participants being involved.

The value of combining sport with employability was seen to increase the level of trust and foster positive relationships between staff and participants. It facilitated initial assessments and one-to-one support sessions for young people and importantly it makes Street League engaging, enjoyable and different from other employability providers.

In 2017 we have introduced Fitness as a new sport and with the support of People’s Postcode Lottery completed a study with young people into what sports we might introduce in the future. We are also working with our sports coaches to develop specialist inductions and good practice video guides that ensure consistency across the organisation and that the key enabling factors are incorporated into every Street League sport session. 

Young people are at the centre of everything we do

The different starting points of each young person we support gives Street League Academies a brilliantly diverse environment where participants get an opportunity to meet new people. One of the things we were most pleased about was that they felt safe and valued at Street League. An inclusive environment meant they could confidently develop the social skills that would see them succeed in the work place

The report highlighted the importance of our local partnership networks. These ensure young people are aware of Street League’s programmes and that referrals are well suited to the opportunities we offer. These networks are also important for Street League’s ability to signpost and refer young people who need further specialist support. We therefore decided to achieve Matrix Accreditation, part of which saw us undertake an organisation-wide stakeholder mapping exercise. This ensures that Street League has the appropriate contacts in every city and local community in which we operate and young people get the support they need when they need it. 

Sustained social impact

We know that we can most effectively ensure a young person progresses into a sustainable outcome by getting a clear understanding of their starting point when they join Street League. This is informed by their initial assessment and updated through regular 1-to-1 support sessions.

We have started analysing our data in a way that sheds light on a young person’s starting point with Street League, their journey with us and the likelihood of their progression into an outcome (and what type of outcome it is). Given the large amount of data we have collected for several years, we are now seeking to understand how we can better predict a young person’s journey with us – the barriers that might prevent their progression or lead to them disengaging from our programme. 

Young people’s lives and journeys with Street League are complex and the study conducted by Brunel reinforced for us that using data – quantitative and qualitative – more effectively to understand these journeys will strengthen the support we offer and the sustainability of our social impact.