About our Theory of Change: Guest Blog from Rosie Chadwick, Eastside Primetimers Consultant.
A theory of change does what it says on the tin. It’s an organisation’s explanation – or theory – of the change (or changes) it wants to make and how it aims to bring that change about. It’s a theory, yes, but its uses are also very practical: a theory of change spells out what – and who – you’re there for, the difference you want to make, and what you need to focus on to make as much difference as you can.
As an EP consultant I’ve supported many organisations to think about, and map, their theory of change, drawing on insights from staff, people using services, trustees, partners and others. Several things stand out for me about the theory of change developed with Ypeople – now Right There.
Personal Journey of Change
The first is how far the journey of change described is a journey of feelings or emotions. Too often we focus on what you might call external changes: has someone got a house, a job and so on. (This is the first time I’ve seen ‘I feel loved’ in a theory of change!) Important as external changes are they are only part of the story, and they may also be short-lived if changes on the inside don’t match up.
The second is how much success depends on the commitment of Right There’s staff to walking alongside people, building high quality equal relationships of trust and mutual respect. The work is of course highly skilled but so is a willingness to give something of yourself, to reach out as one human being to another – or as the new name puts it – to be Right There.
Growing Academic Research
The third is how far Right There’s approach is backed up by academic research. Among examples, the approach reflects growing understanding of the links between trauma and homelessness and the needs we all have to feel empowered and connected to others. It also accords with recent findings about cutting through service silos and being flexible enough to offer the ‘right support at the right time.’
Right Support At The Right Time
Walking alongside people going through tough times, supporting their emotional as well as their practical journeys and ensuring the right support at the right time is a powerful combination. I wish Right There all the best in putting their theory of change into action, gathering evidence to keep on improving their approach and sharing their vision with others.