National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) recruits a cohort of young, talented dancers each year along with a guest artistic director to produce and tour a piece of contemporary dance. Since 2016, Shared Intelligence has worked with NYDC to evaluate the company, with a particular focus on each annual cohort. Along with understanding the impact of NYDC on its cohort of dancers, we have helped NYDC develop a theory of change to explain what works, in what circumstances, and why. In 2023 Si worked with NYDC to produce a 10-year evaluation report, highlighting the main impacts and successes of the programme over the last decade, providing evidence and insight to enable NYDC to plan their next decade.
These evaluations are a good example of Si’s approach of integrating evaluation and learning into programme development. We are able to help clients understand the lived experience of participants, beneficiaries, and stakeholders and use that insight to inform action and programme development. In the case of NYDC, this has enabled them to identify important aspects of their programme design – for example, the huge confidence boost that the dancers receive from performing on Sadler’s mainstage. It has also helped identify the most important pieces of evidence for their long-term sustainability – that nine out of ten NYDC young people who join NYDC go on to some form of work or training in dance or the performing arts.
Shared Intelligence, alongside Meri Mayhew Consulting and RAND Europe, was commissioned by the Forces in Mind (FiMT) to research the delivery and the impact of the Armed Forces Covenant in reducing disadvantage for members of the Armed Forces Community. This is a continuation of the previous Our Community – Our Covenant work, including our original iteration published in 2017. The work also coincided with the introduction, under the Armed Forces Act 2021, of a statutory duty in relation to the Covenant. We covered six policy areas – education, health, and housing, children’s services, employment, and adult social care. The research also covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The research first identified five key drivers of disadvantage facing members of the AFC. They are: geographical relocation, aspects of life in the AFC, aspects of the transition to civilian life, a lack of understanding about the AFC within councils and other public service providers, and a lack of understanding of the Covenant and the associated support within the AFC.
The report then provided an appraisal of activity undertaken by public services in the UK to reduce the potential disadvantage experienced in comparison to other members of society. A decade on from the introduction of the covenant, there is a wide range of evidence of a lot of activity at different levels aiming to reduce the risk of disadvantage. Examples reference in the report include the relaxation of the local connection requirement for social housing, and the creation of the School Admissions Code and the veteran-friendly GP accreditation.