Our Improving Futures programme aims to improve the lives of children growing up in families with multiple and complex needs. We’re investing £26 million in 26 projects across the UK. These projects support voluntary organisations to lead projects that work with a range of partners including Local Authorities.
We want projects to adopt new, joined-up delivery approaches and share their learning between public services and voluntary organisations. Ultimately, this will help children and families with complex needs.
The Improving Futures evaluations focus on three key areas:
- Trying out new pays of delivering services to children
- Improved learning and sharing between public and voluntary sector
- Improved outcomes for families and children with complex needs.
Improving Futures year 1 report
Improving Futures year 2 report
Improving Futures year 2 report summary (Welsh version)
Improving Futures year 3 report (Welsh version)
Top tips for the voluntary sector in establishing support for families with complex needs
In April 2015, we asked Cordis Bright to carry out a piece of research for us exploring how our funding had supported those affected by domestic abuse and to help us understand:
- what we have funded in the area of domestic abuse
- what we have learnt in supporting those affected by domestic abuse
- how service providers were measuring the difference their work was making and what outcome measure frameworks were available
- how service providers can make a better case for sustainability.
The report includes a number of recommendations that funders and policy makes should consider to help support the work and sustainability of services trying to address and prevent domestic abuse. Some of these recommendations include:
- Engaging even more closely with service providers to help them understand the benefits of measuring the difference their work is making and whether the available outcome measurement frameworks could help them do this.
- Considering striking a balance between replicating and innovating; remaining open-minded about innovative approaches as well as supporting service models developed from a robust evidence base.
- Ways for encouraging sustainability, such as the potential for longer term funding arrangements, practical support to help develop sustainability and alternative funding models.
- Prioritising areas of work which focus on: responsive or service user led services, promoting engagement and accessibility, working in partnership and effective recruitment, support and training for their staff and volunteers.
Find out more about what we learnt through our domestic abuse research by downloading the Cordis Bright report.
The researchers also produced a domestic abuse outcome measurement framework report which clarifies seven of the available frameworks and sets out how they can be used to their best advantage.
Better Off was initially funded in Scotland between 2003 and 2008 through the New Opportunities Fund’s Transforming Communities Initiative with £10 million. It aimed to support people who misuse or have misused drugs and who are trying to make changes to their lifestyle and circumstances to turn away from drug misuse. It aimed to offer holistic support tailored to the needs of individual service users, with the intent that more people would enter and remain on rehabilitation programmes and, where appropriate, move towards education or employment.
Evaluation findings demonstrated that a joined-up approach and a client-centred ethos are key elements of a successful project. Additional project elements to consider including are:
- Social bonding
- Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating
- Engaging individuals in something practical and creative to build their confidence
- Volunteering opportunities so people can ‘give something back’.
The evaluation also looked at building and sustaining integrated service and found that effective integration flows from:
- Sharing common aims and priorities
- Collaborative attitudes
- A similar understanding of client needs and the different services on offer
- Dedicated staff who can prioritise work to act on the common aims.
Better Off final evaluation report
Better Off evaluation (mid term summary)
Better Off second year report
Better Off first year report
Better Off first year report summary
Case studies of working with ex-offenders
In 2013, the Big Lottery Fund (Scotland) commissioned Arrivo Consulting Ltd to develop case studies of 12 different projects which focused on supporting ex-offenders. The purpose of these case studies were to help us learn about the different approaches taken by projects providing support to ex-offenders to help them make a transition back to society and discourage reoffending.
This report provides an overview of the findings identified through the research and in particular focuses on:
- The approaches that projects take to working with specific groups of ex-offenders and the rationale for those approaches.
- The outcomes that the projects are aiming to achieve and how they measure success.
- The learning from the projects: What ‘works’ and what are the challenges when providing support to different groups of ex-offenders?
The report concludes with a review of the issues in measuring the outcomes of work aimed at reducing reoffending and with suggestions for developing a model evaluation framework.
Case studies of working with ex-offenders report
Summary of your learning: working with ex-offenders
In December 2014, we asked for your thoughts on how to support people who have a history of offending. This short report provides details on what you told us in regards to the following questions:
- What examples of effective work to reduce reoffending are out there?
- What models respond best to local differences?
- What strengths do ex-offenders themselves bring to the table?
- What other data is there that would help us understand what works and what doesn’t?
This Big Blog article also provides a summary of the information you sent us.
The full summary of your responses