Vi-Ability’s core activity is an eight-week programme for young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). This programme introduces young people to the commercial management of sports clubs while supporting them to make a positive difference to their local community on a daily basis through social action.

What CSAIF funded: Vi-Ability were awarded £265,504 (£20,000 of which was ringfenced for evaluation) to support replication of the training and volunteering programme in London, more than doubling the reach of the programme by the end of the grant period. Within two years, Vi-Ability were to have established partnerships with at least 14 sports clubs in London and to have supported a total of 740 young people aged between 16 and 24. View the full impact evaluation.

About the evaluation

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

Evaluator: Icarus

Aim: The aim of the evaluation was to assess the impact of the Vi-Ability programme on young NEETs’ level of qualification, employability skills and knowledge, and their NEET status.

Key findings:

  1. 72 of participants were no longer NEET at the end of the programme (though it was not possible to collect follow-up data to see whether these outcomes were sustained).
  2. Of the 56 per cent of participants who provided both baseline and follow-up data on the Outcomes Star for Work reported an average improvement across all scales of 1.2 points (scales ranged from 1 to 10).
  3. 32 per cent of participants did not complete the full 8 weeks programme, which was a higher dropout rate than it had previously been in Wales. Vi-ability are considering changes to the referral and recruitment process to address this.

Methodology: Primarily baseline and follow-up survey data, alongside qualitative interviews and focus groups.

Why is this a Level 2 Evaluation?

Baseline and follow-up survey data showed a positive change against key outcomes, using appropriate tools, and was supported by more in-depth qualitative data. There was quite high attrition for some of the data (i.e. only 56% of participants who filled in a baseline survey also filled in the follow-up survey), which could hypothetically mean the sample is not representative of all young people who took part in the programme. But this is driven in large part by some participants leaving the programme early, which makes it hard to collect that data.

About the evidence journey

Progress: Through this evaluation Vi-Ability 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 the positive change seen is due to the programme itself (rather than other factors).

Lessons learned: The programme delivery and evaluation highlighted a number of areas that Vi-Ability felt could be addressed to ensure that programme is even stronger going forwards. Whilst covered in more detail in the Evaluation Report, the key lessons learned included:

  • More time and strategy needed to recruit the participants.
  • Consideration about the minimum and maximum numbers on future programmes is key in programme successes.
  • That what Vi-Ability thought was the correct staff structure was not and this needs to be addressed going forwards.
  • Be SMART in finding other way to capture data that is less staff intensive. As a growing social enterprise these methods also need to be scalable.

Next steps: Delivering this programme and completing the evaluation has allowed Vi-Ability to take a holistic look at how the programme works. Resultant from this has been the identification of a number of areas where changes can be made to inform future programmes, planning and best practice.