How We Make Impact?
Showing impact of our work: it is not straightforward for us to collect qualitative data from beneficiaries directly.
As part of our drop-in work, we map connections with people by visit, by postcode and by frequency and nature of visit.
We demonstrate best our impact through case studies – e.g., case studies of young people who have accessed our services and we have seen improvement in their performance at school, have comments from parents/ and or schools, seen an increase in motivation / aspiration and have evidence of appreciation of input.
We have trialled recently some softer measures which indicate benefit traditionally used by charities to evidence their impact which looks at perceived benefit to well being in terms which matches a Western viewpoint using such questions as: quote questions.
Case study – using majority culture impact questionnaire
With two isolated women (single, age bracket 55-60, new users to our service – recently not working due to increased lack of mobility following illness / repeated operations) who have walked under a mile to access services and were looking for economic support with input to provision in their flats, a bilingual support worker gently asked them if they would consider answering a questionnaire which would be used to measure the output of our services. They were advised that they might consider the questions invasive.
Both are of an age which they consider to be old (within their home culture) within which they consider their life to be past and themselves to be old and not needing any longer to ‘push themselves to take an active part in life’. This attitude springs from the different culture and can be challenged gently but definitely impacts on mental attitudes to recovery from operations that in the host population are seen to be ‘routine’ and can be recovered from. This attitude is seen by our workers to impact negatively on people’s attitudes (refusing to eat well/sensibly; exercise; work; engagement in social activities; withdrawal).
Both responded to the questions as having no relevance to them or their situation: their perception was that these questions were suggesting that they could not cope with their lives (as Muslims their perception is that the condition of their lives is ordered by God, and they should submit to that) and traditionally acknowledging levels of stress or distress not only compromises their religious tenets but challenges traditionally held beliefs concerning mental health. One lady repeatedly said: “I have pain but that is what makes life difficult nothing else. I can cope with pain.”
R (9 years) arrived in the UK in 20xx direct from Somalia with his sister (8 years) and his Mum. It seems that contact was made with SOCOPA through a relative whose children had benefited from our input previously.
Traumatised R, removed from all he has known, soon became aware that his younger sister was picking up English quicker; her easy smile and outgoing nature meant that there were always kids around her willing to help. For him, a troubled face dominated his nature: he had to take the responsibilities of a man; his mum was alone. He found others difficult to understand and couldn’t get his points across; he turned in on himself and only used his face or gestures to communicate.
Covid 19 brought about lockdowns: R and his sister were thrown back into a Somali-language-only-world with confusing English instructions from school until SOCOPA put 1:2 lessons via video streaming in place weekly.
After a few months back in school R (11 years ) then had to move from the relative safety of primary school to a secondary school where he was targeted by others. He was easy to bait; he had few other Somalis around him; he would easily misunderstand remarks and stand up for himself physically and aggressively if teased
Mum asked for SOCOPA’s help – she was told by school “Your son has ‘anger issues’.” SOCOPA gave him extra support at Saturday sessions and provided some 1:1 sessions where he could discuss what bothered him and study English at his own level with no one else seeing his mistakes or ridiculing the level of his English work. They created work where he could experience success. These tailored lessons gave him an opportunity to attend, to talk about his issues and a sunnier nature began to appear.
Additionally, he was given gentle mentoring through the SOCOPA sports programme (Saturdays and Sundays) where he began to see how issues with others could be resolved without a fight and to appreciate the input of older Somali young men who could respond to his humour and to his dramatic poses and expressions.
In school, they noticed his penchant for drama and story and encouraged him to take part. SOCOPA now is seeking to sponsor his attendance at extra drama lessons and to foster the undoubted talent that he has.