Evaluation of Blackpool Council’s 'Youthability Hub'

Evaluation services case study -Blackpool: Youthability Hub

Case Study Summary

  • Blackpool Council commissioned support from Research in Practice (RiP) to provide an independent evaluation of the pilot ‘Youthability Hub’ – a one stop shop for unemployed 16-24 year olds.
  • We worked together to agree the research questions, the methodology and how the Council’s and RiP’s resources would be used to gather data.
  • Blackpool Council will share the findings with strategic partners from the public, private and voluntary sector across Blackpool, including recommendations for the future development of the service.

What was the project about?

The ‘Youthability Hub’ arose from a consultation exercise with unemployed 16-24 year olds who asked for all the help they need to be in one place, e.g.:

I don`t just want to be asked how many CVs I`ve sent. I want to be asked how I am (Unemployed young person).

A small scale ‘Youthability Hub’ pilot was set up to meet this need, operating as a weekly drop-in centre bringing together a wide range of services for 16-24 year olds. Core services that were involved on a weekly basis included Connexions, Jobcentre Plus, counselling and substance misuse support. A range of training providers and employers attended the ‘Youthability Hub’ on a rotating basis so that young people could find out directly about employment, education and training opportunities.

Project aims

The aim of the evaluation was to assess whether this approach added value to existing services and systems in place to help unemployed 16-24 year olds, and specifically to:

  • identify who was using the ‘Youthability Hub’ and their views on the service;
  • find out how the ‘Youthability Hub’ was experienced by young people and any perceived impact it was having on barriers to employment, education or training and movement into these opportunities;
  • explore with stakeholders involved in delivering the ‘Youthability Hub’, how the service was working and suggestions for future improvements.

What did we do?

There were three main phases to the evaluation:

Phase 1: Collaborative planning of the evaluation and design of the research tools

Phase 2: Data collection:

  • Exit surveys with young people were administered by stakeholders in the ‘Youthability Hub’
  • Reflective discussion sessions were held by stakeholders with agencies involved in the ‘Youthability Hub’
  • RiP undertook face-to-face interviews with young people and telephone interviews with stakeholders
  • All young people who had visited the Hub since its creation were contacted to find out about their education, employment and/or training status.

Phase 3: RiP collated and analysed the data and presented a report outlining stakeholder views, experiences and outcomes, and recommendations for the future.

Feedback from Mike Taplin, Senior Manager (Post 16 Learning), Blackpool Council:

How well did we do?
RiP worked really closely with Blackpool Council so our combined resources were used flexibly and effectively ensuring the commissioning budget went further!
What difference did we make?
RiP brought their respected research and analysis expertise to guide the evaluation of the project and at the same time brought a credible independence to the findings which will help partners to own the findings.
What are the next steps for Blackpool Council?
To share the proposals locally, regionally and nationally to assist the development of coherent support services for unemployed 16-24 year olds. Traditionally these services tend to straddle the world of children’s and adults’ services which can cause fragmentation.

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