Empowering participants: Celebrating achievements and gathering feedback from the project
Last autumn, we held 2 events to celebrate achievements across the Engage to Change project. The events were attended by many young people who had taken part in the project, as well as their families.
While the focus of the events was on celebrating and giving out awards for achievements, the project’s research team also used the opportunity to gather feedback from participants on the project’s impact. Participants were asked to reflect on the research findings and provide their reactions on post-it notes that were then clustered together and summarised into keywords to form a Word Cloud.
Word Cloud highlights positive feedback
The Word Cloud revealed that the employment rate among project participants was positive, with 30% of them reporting having a job. However, many participants felt that the number of people gaining employment should have been higher. Participants largely supported the research finding that having work or volunteering placements increased the likelihood of participants getting a job. Additionally, those who had paid placements with Engage to Change were found to be more likely to get a job, although participants felt that this was dependent on individual circumstances.
The research also revealed that participants felt that more experience was needed than the 16 hours worked by half of the people on the project. Nevertheless, participants were able to identify several positive outcomes of the project, including personal and social impacts such as increased confidence, meeting new people, and gaining skills associated with employment. Feedback from families was overwhelmingly positive, with no negative outcomes identified. Families identified a lot of positive outcomes for their young people from being on the project, including increased confidence, social connections, and employment opportunities.
Evidence for change after the project ends
It is evident that Engage to Change has had a positive impact on the employment opportunities and personal and social development of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism. While there is room for improvement in terms of the number of people gaining employment, the project has been successful in providing work and volunteering placements that increase the likelihood of participants getting a job. Feedback from families also indicates that Engage to Change has been successful in improving the lives of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism.