Our work with relational services
At Matter of Focus we specialise in working with organisations addressing some of the most challenging and complex social problems where relationships are central to the effectiveness of the initiative. We believe that it is vital that evaluation approaches pay attention to these relationships and the contribution that they make to the overall outcomes and impacts of the work. Our framework provides an accessible and robust way to ensure that relational aspects of the change process are centred within evaluations.
In our work with the most pioneering relational services we often find that funders and commissioners underestimate, undervalue and under-resource the relationships that make the service work. Services may have been set up with problematic assumptions about how long it takes to build relationships with supported people and the resource required for this work.
Some of our most detailed work in this space has been with Future Pathways. Future Pathways was established in 2016 as one of the first organisations in the world to provide specialist support to survivors of childhood abuse and neglect whilst in care. Relationships between Survivors and Support Co-ordinators are at the heart of this work.
Through their evaluations over the years, Future Pathways have been able to build a robust theory of change for the service that highlights the importance of relationships, and to evidence the difference that their approach makes to improving outcomes for Survivors.
Our new article
We were delighted to be invited to contribute a paper to a special issue of the international journal, Evaluation and Program Planning on this work. The special issue focuses on approaches to testing and surfacing assumptions in theories of change and is edited by Sanjeev Sridharan, Mel Mark and April Nakaima. The paper is co-authored by Flora Henderson, Alliance Manager at Future Pathways, and focuses specifically on assumptions around building trust within the service.
You can download a preprint version of the article here or view the final version on the ScienceDirect website using the link below. Please note: you may need a subscription to the Evaluation and Program Planning journal to view the full article in this way.