WREN Programme Evaluation

St. Giles

The Client

St. Giles is a UK based NGO which has extensive experienceof enabling the betterment of lives for disadvantaged groups of people through a lived experience model in the UK context. The ‘Women Rising Enabling Neighbourhoods (WREN) pilot project was seen as an opportunity for St. Giles to apply expertise in lived experience models within grassroots organisations, who at the time of implementation either had existing women’s services or a desire to establish a women’s service within their organisation. The WREN project aimed to increase grassroots organisation’s (GROs) capacities to recruit and engage women with lived experience following a ‘community champion model’. The Women Community Champions (WCC) were trained to lead activities or projects to support at risk women from local communities.

A key outcome of the project was to strengthen the peer evaluators, WREN and St. Giles teams’ skills in M&E processes:  

The WREN Project Manager at St. Giles acknowledged the value of the collaborative approach that inFocus followed throughout the project that enhanced personal learning.  The WREN team also felt that the learning from the programme and evaluation would be useful to improve other similar St. Giles services. 

The Evaluation Methodology and Key Stages

An external evaluation was commissioned to inFocus in 2022 and the team followed a realist evaluation approach to explore the context, mechanisms and outcomes across the different socio-ecological levels of the system that the WREN project affected (combining formative and summative evaluation processes). The evaluation also followed participatory and mixed methods approaches, so that the voices of stakeholders at multiple levels were heard, including the WREN staff and beneficiaries of their services (GROs, WCCs, and women from local communities). The following evaluation activities covered all areas of the programme in the three target areas of: Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth, and Margate

  • Evaluation design: The St. Giles and the WREN team were involved in the WREN Theory of Change (ToC) co-design process and the development of the evaluation framework.  
  • Peer Evaluators Capacity building: The recruitment and training (in evaluation and data collection methods) of three Peer Evaluators from the same locations was accomplished.  
  • Mix Method Data Collection: All GROs were involved in pre and post surveys and interviews, 72 Women Community Champions completed both the pre and post surveys, and more than 50 WCCs were engaged in the qualitative methods (journaling, stories of change interviews, group discussions). An additional 31 women from the local community were surveyed.  
  • Dissemination and Learning: An interim report and a final report were developed from primary and secondary sources. Following the reports, two interactive learning workshops were facilitated by inFocus with key stakeholders to reflect on evaluation findings and learnings and how to embed them in future project iterations.   

The evaluation project found that as a result of the WREN project, the GROs were able to increase their capacity and confidence to work and support women with lived experience. The evaluation also evidenced that the majority of the WCCs showed a significant increase in levels of self-confidence, resilience and emotional wellbeing.  

Challenges and Solutions

The WREN project was a short-term intervention and a pilot project, and as such the evaluation was implemented as the project was being designed and delivered. This required flexibility and adaptability in the evaluation approach as well as engagement from the stakeholders involved. Optimising data collection was key to avoid duplication and add an extra burden on small organisations and therefore the evaluation team added key questions on existing WREN forms and used project documents as an input for analysis. Another key consideration within the evaluation was the accessibility of the evaluation, for example, in terms of language and timing, to ensure that all stakeholders could participate in the evaluation, in particular women from disadvantage communities. In order to break accessibility barriers, the evaluation took a peer-led approach and aimed to also empower and build the capacity of women with lived experience in the target areas, this included peer evaluators who supported the adaption of the data collections tools by using more creative methods (observation, journaling, stories of change brief interviews, drawing during workshops)In addition, to overcome the key challenges faced, the inFocus team were approachable, worked as a close knit-team with the WREN team and always tried to co-create appropriate solutions which enabled the evaluation to achieve its goals and address the project need.  

Want to see more?

Check out our other similar work on programme evaluations and in the gender equity/equality and women’s empowerment space.