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supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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Project Evaluations

This page provides short case studies of voluntary and community sector organisations that have had their project or organisation evaluated for effectiveness.

This resource aims to showcase examples of good practice.

Clinks have produced some guidance around monitoring outcomes when working with volunteers, and also provided a discussion paper on measuring outcomes when working in the criminal justice system.


ORGANISATION: Changing Tunes
TITLE: The Great Escape: Exploring the Rehabilitative Dynamics involved in ‘Changing Tunes’
EVALUATOR: Shadd Maruna, Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Queen’s University, Belfast. October 2010.
LINK: weblink (pdf 927kb)
SYNOPSIS: Changing Tunes uses music teaching, rehearsing, recording, performance, improvisation and composition to aid the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-prisoners. The evaluation seeks to know “how” or “why” interventions get the outcomes they do. The report looks at how and why Changing Tunes works as a rehabilitative strategy, outlining both the processes involved and the short and longer term impacts on the lives of the participants.

TITLE: Miss Spent in Custody. A drama project for young women in the Josephine Butler Unit, HMP Downview.
EVALUATOR: Karin Van Maanen. June 2010.
LINK: (pdf 247KB)
SYNOPSIS: Miss Spent is an arts-based personal development programme and this is an evaluation of the first time Miss Spent was taken into a custodial setting. A team of Clean Break facilitators worked with nine young female offenders aged between 17 and 18 for ten days, to explore personal skills and work towards a public event to which Clean Break and prison staff and other guests were invited. This evaluation focused on the participants; looking at the response of young women and the perceived impact of the project on their lives. Clean Break intends to catch up with the girls six months after the project to find out whether there has been a longer term benefit for them.

TITLE: The Academy – A Report on Outcomes for Participants.
EVALUATOR: Andrew Miles & Paul Strauss. ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change University of Manchester. 2010.
LINK: weblink (pdf 1.26mb)
SYNOPSIS: The Dance United Academy offers an intensive, dance-led learning programme for young offenders and young people at risk of offending in a community setting. Dance United commissioned an independent evaluation over three years using specially designed tools. The model involved a full-time ethnographer embedded in the Academy programme working alongside the participants. The evaluation focused on the impact of the Academy programme on participants’ ‘capacity to learn’ and the consequences of this for their subsequent journey.

TITLE: Back from the Brink. How Fairbridge transforms the lives of disadvantaged young people.
EVALUATOR: Barry Knight, Centris. 2010
LINK: weblink (pdf 877kb)
SYNOPSIS: Fairbridge aims to give disadvantaged young people the confidence and skills to transform their lives. This report takes a critical look at data from three independent evaluations of Fairbridge conducted since 2000. Fairbridge has developed a theory of change that is displayed graphically in the report; gains in ‘primary’ personal and social skills are followed by gains in ‘secondary skills’ such as return to education. The results display a significant dip in progress after four to six months, despite initial improvements, so that young people often feel worse than they did at the beginning. However, after that, they pick up again and finish much higher than they started. The dip is held to demonstrate that progress is generally ‘curvilinear’ and a series of explanations are offered.

ORGANISATION: Good Vibrations
TITLE: Continuing Positive Change in Prison and the Community. An analysis of the long-term and wider impact of the Good Vibrations Project.
EVALUATOR: Laura Caulfield, David Wilson & Dean Wilkinson. Centre for Applied Criminology, Birmingham City University. 2010
LINK: weblink 
SYNOPSIS: Good Vibrations aims to help prisoners, patients in secure hospitals and ex offenders to develop team-working, communications and other important life skills, through participating in Gamelan (Indonesian percussion) workshops. The aim of the study was to assess the long-term (at least 12 months) impact of taking part in a Good Vibrations course on participants. Findings were presented from twenty-six men and women in prison and the community who had taken part in a Good Vibrations project in prison. The research team tracked the emotional and psychological change over time in project participants. The analysis of the results concluded that Good Vibrations acts as a ‘catalyst’ for change in the lives of offenders.

ORGANISATION: Ormiston Children & Families Trust
TITLE: Children’s Centres and Prison Links. Evaluation of a year-long pilot developing Children’s Centre services to support children and families of prisoners.
(pdf 1MB)
SYNOPSIS: Ormiston is a childen’s charity, which aims to reach children most disadvantaged by their life circumstances, including those affected by imprisonment. In April 2010, Ormiston published an evaluation of its one year pilot developing Children’s Centre services undertaken internally by their Research Manager. A list of the aims and intended outcomes of the project are used as the framework for evaluating the project. The report records progress and positive findings and also explores barriers to using Children’s Centres from parents, for example perceived stigmatisation. The evaluation demonstrates that the pilot programme fills a gap and has begun to build up evidence to attract future funding.

ORGANISATION: The Re-Unite Project
TITLE: The Re-Unite Project Early Development Phase: Evaluation Report
EVALUATOR: Dr Loraine Gelsthorpe and Dr Gilly Sharpe. Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. February 2010
LINK: weblink (pdf 482kb)
SYNOPSIS: The Re-Unite project aims to provide housing and support for women and their children who might otherwise be homeless upon the mothers’ release from prison. The evaluation provides feedback at an early stage of the project’s lifespan in to order to assist Re-Unite to developing its full potential. Beginning in October 2007 the researchers followed up the women as they were released and housed, looking at indicators of resettlement. This small scale study involved a series of interviews with the women themselves, their children, project workers, probation officers, and other relevant service providers, as well as analysis of other indicators of progress (e.g. in case file documentation). The evaluation is of its kind and the introduction provides an explanation of various limitations that the researchers faced.

ORGANISATION: Southside Partnership
TITLE: Southside Partnership Beyond Prison: Bringing the out side in Prison Mental Health and Race Equality Project. Evaluation Report.
EVALUATOR: Claire Henderson and Steve Wright. Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. March 2010
LINK: (pdf 173kb)
SYNOPSIS: This project includes the development, performance and broadcast a DVD of an educational stand-up comedy intervention. The aim is to allow offenders to explore their mental health and race related issues and encourage them to seek/access wellbeing and support services. The report covers the evaluation of a live performance of the show devised, performed and filmed to be shown in Surrey prisons. The prisoners were given a questionnaire to complete before and after the performance. Baseline data was collected of respondent’s mental health related knowledge, attitudes, behavioural intentions and comfort. The responses were compared in order to detect differences between the two scores sets.

Organisation: Support for Women Around Northumberland (SWAN)
Project title: Evaluation of Support for Women Around Northumberland
Evaluators: Barefoot Research and Evaluation.
Link: (pdf 288kb - Summary)
Synposis: Support for Women Around Northumberland (SWAN) is a virtual one-stop-shop that has received funding from the Ministry of Justice under their Diverting Women from Custody Programme. SWAN is delivered by a partnership of voluntary organisations and aims to reduce reoffending through a range of diversionary and preventative interventions. This evaluation draws upon interviews and focus groups with service users, project staff and partners agencies. For each set of interviews, the findings are discussed thematically. For example, the report describes the capacity of SWAN to address rural isolation as an organisation that ‘goes to the offender’. The evaluation also gives an analysis of offending data from the Police National Computer and evidences substantial reductions in arrests, charges and convictions for the women engaging with SWAN.

ORGANISATION: WomenCentre Ltd.
TITLE: Evaluation of the Evolve Project
EVALUATOR: Prisons and Resettlement Research, NACRO. May 2009
This report presents findings of an evaluation of the Evolve Project, which supports women offenders and women at risk of offending in Calderdale and Kirklees with a one-stop-shop approach. The evaluation assessed effectiveness of the project in relation to the three categories of vulnerabilities described in the Corston Review. The evaluators looked at project documents and interviewed the women accessing Evolve services, project staff and key stakeholders in the local area. The women used a spidergram to score how they felt before and after joining Evolve, while staff scored how women were progressing with their planned activities every month.