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It provides targeted age-appropriate services supporting families holistically through our five impact areas: physical health, mental health, psychosocial wellbeing, maximising potential and practical support.

What CSAIF funded: Body and Soul was awarded £83,388 (including £15,000 for evaluation) to replicate their long-running peer mentor approach with young people online. The grant has allowed the team to reach 435 young people across 74 local authorities by mobilising 25 volunteer peer mentors through 3700 + peer support calls.

The grant has also helped the team scope the appetite for additional remote peer support services. They have received funding to further expand their digital social action work to older people with HIV. View the full impact evaluation.

About the evaluation

Level on Standards: Level 2 - they have captured data that shows positive change, but they cannot confirm they caused this.

Evaluator: OPM

Aim: The evaluation of Body & Soul aimed to investigate to what extent, and in what ways, did the Beyond Boundaries programme lead to improved wellbeing, social support and connectivity for young people living with HIV.

Key findings:

  1. The evaluation found that Beyond Boundaries participants experienced increased feelings of wellbeing through being given/signposted to practical support, and thinking about the future.
  2. Participants reported feeling more confident in their knowledge of HIV, and their ability to communicate openly with health professionals, friends and romantic or sexual partners.
  3. Some outcomes, such as self-esteem and happiness, actually decreased during the course of the programme, though potentially valid explanations for this were given (see ‘why this level’ below)

Methodology:

  • Body & Soul’s evaluation methodology used a pre-intervention survey, accompanied by a follow-up survey six months after completing the programme. This information was supplemented by six case studies, focus groups with staff and peer mentors, and a mobile app that participants used as a diary.
  • 435 young people engaged with the Beyond Boundaries programme over the course of the evaluation – 89 actually participated in the evaluation. 67 participants completed the initial survey, which dropped to 55 responses for the follow-up survey. 34 participants completed both the pre- and post-intervention survey. A further six individuals were used as, case studies, with another six taking part in a focus group. 10 participants submitted diary entries via the mobile app.

Why is it a Level 2 Evaluation?

The evaluation evidences a positive change over time in some outcomes for the young people that it supports, using appropriate tools. The response rate could be higher, but there are clear explanations in the report for why it is lower, and how this can be addressed going forward. The findings on some negative changes in outcome are a threat to Level 2 and should not be overlooked, but the explanation that this might reflect participants’ increasing emotional literacy and/or a potential natural decline in outcomes is reasonable and well made. This is certainly still an avenue for further research.

About the evidence journey

Progress: Through this evaluation Body and Soul have moved from Level 1 to Level 2 on the Nesta Standards of Evidence, reflecting the fact that they are now able to more robustly show a positive change in outcome. The next step on the Standards would be to include a robust comparison group of some kind, to be more confident that any positive change seen is due to the programme itself, and any negative change is due to other factors.

Lessons learned: Body and Soul have developed a deeper understanding of the need to embed monitoring and evaluation processes into their programming in order to ensure a better response rate and less attrition. The evaluation was enriched by the breadth of different research methods and did not limit itself to self-reported quantative data which could be unreliable. The triangulation of data through the use of qualitative interviews and focus groups helped to bring out salient issues from the project.

Next steps: Body and Soul have secured a further three years’ funding to expand Beyond Boundaries to adults of all ages, in addition to young people. They have already put some of the learning in place from their evaluation to embed new monitoring and evaluation practices in place and are able to build on relationships and partnerships which were formed in our pilot to scale the project smoothly in this next stage.