Measuring Impact – more than just paperwork

We asked Dagenham trainer Ginny why the forms we get people to fill in at the beginning and end of each course are so important – and compelling.

Ginny, you have spent a long time looking at your computer screen recently – can you tell us why?

Heidi asked me to type up and look at the data from the forms people fill in when they start and finish a Peaced Together course. We ask participants to rate various aspects of their life and outlook, such as confidence, health and activity levels. Although data input is not my idea of fun, I wanted to help. I know it’s really important that we find out whether Peaced Together is making an impact. To be honest, I thought it would be a really boring job, just typing in numbers!

When you started looking at the forms, what effect did it have on you?

I was really moved as I could see the progression that so many women made, right across the different course locations. Lots of people stated that their confidence had gone from one at the beginning of the course to five at the end – from the lowest to the highest rating. It was amazing to see it so clearly laid out! The comments also demonstrated this improvement – one woman said, “My confidence has improved and I feel better at going out and about now.”

The comments section of the questionnaires also showed how Peaced Together is encouraging people to take bold new steps in their lives. Comments revealed that people have decided to go to university, look for a job, start their own business, learn Spanish… the list goes on!

Did the data you were seeing reflect your experience as a course trainer?

Yes – reflecting on the last course I led, I could really see how the changes we witness in the women came out in the questionnaires. The sessions on ‘Making peace with the past’ proved a real challenge for that group in particular, and it was exciting to see individuals choosing to move on and take steps towards forgiveness as the course progressed. This came through really clearly in the final questionnaires. with comments like “Peaced Together has helped me make steps to reconcile with my family” and “I can change the way I think about things from the past that I find difficult.”

As a trainer, why do you think collecting these questionnaires is so important?

One comment I read was “If I hadn’t done Peaced Together my life might have stayed the same.” That sums it up really – it’s great to have evidence that the course is making a real difference.

As well as being encouraging to us as trainers, the comments and data patterns help us identify ways we can improve how we deliver the course and train new trainers – and that’s something we are constantly striving to do.

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