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January 2016

Partner sought to help evaluate Think Ahead’s impact

We want the Think Ahead movement to have a transformational effect on mental health, improving the lives of individuals, families, and communities. So it’s crucial that we measure our impact, to understand whether we’re achieving our goals.

Our impact will come in a variety of different ways. We aim to bring exceptional people into mental health social work – by directly recruiting remarkable individuals, and by raising the profile of the job as a vital, challenging, and rewarding career choice. We want to pioneer better training, developing and sharing best practice with everyone involved in mental health and social work. And we plan to grow our community of advocates for mental health and the power of social approaches.

As our Chief Executive, Ella Joseph, says: “It’s wonderful that so many people want to be part of Think Ahead, from the enthusiastic graduates joining our programme this summer to the brilliant Consultant Social Workers who will lead their training. We’re committed to maximising the benefit Think Ahead brings to mental health and social work, so as our movement grows and strengthens we want to develop a full picture of the impact we’re having in every area of our work.”

To help us do that, we’re building evaluation into the way the Think Ahead programme works. Our participants, our Consultant Social Workers, and everyone involved with the programme will be collecting data and offering their views on what’s working and what can be improved.

We’ve talked to lots of people to develop these plans, including our Service User and Carer Reference Group, staff in Local Authorities and NHS Trusts, and experts in the evaluation of programmes like Think Ahead. We want to keep these conversations going – not least because we hope that what we learn along the way will be useful to other people, for example by finding new evidence for the effectiveness of different social interventions in mental health.

To maximise the input we get from experts, we also plan to commission an independent organisation to carry out an evaluation project. We want to find an organisation that can bring first-class evaluation expertise and provide an independent, outside perspective.

So today we’ve published a document inviting proposals from organisations interested in carrying out this project. Anyone can apply, and we welcome any questions and comments – feel free to email Emma on to start a conversation.

We’re looking forward to talking to interested organisations, and we’re excited about the contribution this project will make to our efforts to continuously learn, reflect, and improve, so that we can champion evidence-based approaches and make the biggest difference possible to people’s lives.