A three-year evaluation of the Going the Extra Mile (GEM) begun in 2016, providing Paul Courtney and the team - which includes University colleagues Leonie Burton and Wend Russell from Performing Arts and Play - the opportunity to further develop and apply their social value research techniques, as demonstrated in projects such as the Hulme Community Garden Centre Project.
Funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Big Lottery, GEM aims to move the county’s most vulnerable adults closer to employment, training and education. The project involves a consortium of over 70 voluntary community social enterprise (VCSE) and public and private sector partners from across the county. GEM is being managed by the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and will engage 1,100 people between 2016 and 2019.
In 2017, as the project moves into its second year, the evaluation has revealed it to be helping many participants achieve their desired outcomes, whether through a working or educational related route, and GEM is evidently generating substantial social value for individuals and communities alike. There are over 400 participants on the programme to date, an achievement celebrated at Pittville Pump Rooms in Cheltenham in November, where Leonie and Wendy presented some of the success stories highlighted by the evaluation.
Comprising of an SROI and outcomes-based assessment of social value together with a process element, the GEM evaluation cycle also features a unique storytelling peer researcher model whereby participants on the programme are gathering stories from each other through a co-produced interview schedule. Initial findings from the participant stories will be emerging in early 2018.