Building Better Opportunities programmes in D2N2 release Year 4 evaluation reports

Posted 10.05.2022

BBO programmes have been delivering across the D2N2 area for 4 years and have now released their findings from their fourth-year evaluation. This has been a difficult year during which all face-to-face provision was moved online and to telephone interviews due to the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting greatest on participants with complex support needs

The programmes are currently operating within their extension period which will see the projects close in March 2023. However, it is likely that referrals to the programme will close from October 2022 to allow the BBO programmes to ensure that they can help all beneficiaries into an outcome. At the time of writing, we are awaiting updates on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which replaces European-funded programmes (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund) following the UK exit from the EU.

A key highlight in all reports is the additional difficulty created by ‘digital poverty’.  Limited access to digital devices and data made it difficult to maintain the high level of service and saw projects ‘holding’ clients and focussing on their health and wellbeing rather than outcomes for the project. The complexity of issues which have arisen due to COVID-19 has included increased levels of poor mental health and social isolation.

Stakeholder Managers spent much of their time ensuring that projects were aware of the services that would provide the additional help and support needed for beneficiaries engaged on the programme and staff within the delivery partners.

BBO is a learning programme, and we still continue to focus on ‘what works’ for participants.  It is noticeable that all strands of the programme report a unprecedented year where they have had to be extremely flexible to support both participants and the staff delivering the programme. The result has been reduced referrals and more disengagement from the programme.

Opportunity and Change have supported 1159 individuals since 1/10/2016. This is 134 more than profiled.  The demand for the programme remained high with 219 new starts to the programme, despite the service being largely online and telephone support.

The Opportunity and Change report highlights that:

  • The majority of those engaging with the programme had emerging or worsening symptoms of mental ill health. 79% reported symptoms of depression and 78% symptoms of anxiety. 61% reported feeling lonely or socially isolated.
  • 22 participants moved into paid employment and 12 commenced job search activities. Numbers into employment were very low.
  • Navigators had to work very differently and in a creative manner to engage clients. This included sending out daily group text messages, helping to identify lockdown activities ranging from crafting to yoga materials, all sourced and delivered to participants to improve their mental wellbeing.
  • A small majority (2.9%) were unable to engage due to lack of digital equipment. Most were able to access the project via a smartphone or laptop/ tablet. Most were willing to continue to engage with the programme.
  • As a result of engaging with the Opportunity and Change Care Act team, 71 participants had been allocated some form of provision under The Care Act (2015). Within this group, 29 individuals had been awarded a personal budget to pay for additional care and support.
  • Of the 362 participants on the programme in 2020:3% made significant progress in relation to addressing a substance misuse issue
  1. 1 % made progress in relation to their mental health and wellbeing
  2. 3 % made housing-related progress
  3. 9 % accessed support in relation to domestic abuse
  4. 4 % participants reduced their risk of offending

Money Sorted in D2N2 worked with 590 new participants during 2020. The number of participants was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

  • Although there have been higher disengagements from the programme due to COVID-19, 173 participants have moved into employment and self-employment.
  • 7% of participants were helped to establish good financial management including establishing household budget, with 78.8% reporting that their financial skills had improved.
  • The Workers Educational Association (WEA) continued to deliver financial capability and enhance financial wellbeing short courses. Since the start of the programme, they have delivered over 872 guided working hours.

Towards Work have worked with 2909 participants, 393 more than in year 3.   The evaluation covers 15 months for the period 1 January 2020 to March 2021.

The Towards Work report highlights that:

  • 120 participants moved into education or training and a further 221 participants moved into employment.
  • 86% of participants are more confident to look for training and employment opportunities (91% in year 3).
  • Only 51% of participants feel more optimistic about the future compared to 82% in year 3 of the programme. This is a direct result of the COVID–19 pandemic. Work Coaches report an increase in loneliness and mental health issues during this period.
  • Lockdown was challenging for participants with some unable to engage due to lack of access to digital equipment, increased mental ill health and challenges around lockdown issues such as home schooling.

Towards Work have produce an infographic to accompany their evaluation report:

Opportunity & Change
Money Sorted in D2N2
Towards Work

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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