Making a difference to young adults’ lives – interim evaluation report of T2A Pathway Programme published

Sheffield Hallam’s first interim evaluation report into the Transition to Adulthood Pathway Programme, in partnership with Social Justice Solutions (SJS), has been published today.

The University and SJS were commissioned by Barrow Cadbury Trust to evaluate the T2A Pathway programme demonstration projects which were set up to test approaches which take account of maturity and transitions for young adults at key points on the T2A Pathway.

The six projects are run by voluntary organisations which provide targeted initiatives to support young people and address the underlying causes of crime.  The organisations are Addaction, Advance, PACT, The Prince’s Trust, Remedi, and Together for Mental Wellbeing.

This evaluation report drew on the lessons learned from the T2A pilot projects (2009-2013) and will provide an evidence base for the T2A approach with examples of best practice and case studies.  It also outlines what could be done differently at each stage of the criminal justice process – from policing and arrest to custody and resettlement – and provides robust evidence and recommendations for commissioners, practitioners and policy-makers.

This is the first interim report for the evaluation.  A further interim report, final formative evaluation report and final summative evaluation report are due to be produced later this year and in 2017.  The report presents research findings focused on the development, set up and early implementation of the T2A Pathway projects, examining the effectiveness of the processes and partnership arrangements used to deliver the approach within each project site.

Panda Media have also been filming the projects to capture the effectiveness of the projects, to demonstrate how T2A principles are embodied in a ‘real life’ environment and to give a voice to some of the young adults and staff involved.  You can see the videos here.

While the six projects operated at different points on the T2A Pathway their delivery models had common features such as: a welfare-driven approach to young adults; a befriending relationship between project staff and clients; and a holistic approach to the complex and numerous needs of clients.

Some projects benefited from their past experience of delivering similar services, and others from existing working relationships with key statutory partners, such as police, probation and YOTS.  Some projects were able to align their service to meet a locally-identified unmet need that had been identified by key statutory agencies.

Whilst a proportion of the projects appeared to be on track to achieve the target numbers of clients that had been originally identified in applications, challenges remained for others in securing referrals to meet their targets; in some instances this was due to a mismatch between available resources and the scope of the delivery model, which may have been too ambitious.

The interim report found that deploying staff with the right attitude and skills to work with the client group combined with effective staff induction and appropriate training made a big difference to the capacity of a project to operate effectively.

Partnership working operated at different levels across the projects. Projects with the involvement of senior managers from statutory agencies and those with project staff visibly working in partner agency environments saw benefits. However, the report found that cultural dissonance between VCS and statutory agency staff was evident in some projects.

Many of the factors which can improve a project and many of the barriers to the successful development, set-up and operation of projects are not new and are common to these types of initiatives.  A body of evidence already exists to provide learning about these issues.

Project beneficiaries, project staff and partner  agencies were able to identify common benefits such as enhancing self-esteem, encouraging a more positive outlook on their lives, and learning life skills. Benefits for the VCS lead organisation included: an appreciation of the benefits of delivering a preventative initiative; better working relationships with statutory agencies; and expanding their network of agencies. Project and partner agency staff also became more aware of the importance of staff understanding the needs of young adults and females specifically and how that understanding could reduce demand on services as well as reducing workloads.

Read the report

Watch the videos