NUIG research proves Foróige's positive impact on young people

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Foróige April 19, 2013

Foróige has embraced evaluation! Young people are benefiting from their engagement in our clubs and programmes.The outcomes that young people are gaining are tangible, realistic and worthwhile. This is great news for us as staff and volunteers, great news for our young people and great news for our funders. All of the time you invest working with young people is paying off. Young people are doing better because of the time you give and now we have real results that back up our work. The time that young people voluntarily spend with us does lead to better outcomes for them. Funders and donors, we are worth investing money in because we deliver results!

Volunteer Led Clubs

Let’s start with the volunteer-led youth clubs research. Our research involved 118 young people in the first instance from 9 clubs and 71 young people in the second part of the study. The study took place over one club year from September to May 2011. Researchers from NUIG found that youth development measures positively improved young people’s social, psychological/emotional skills and their life skills were also improved. Two thirds of respondents reported faring better as a result of being a club member and the majority of club members enjoyed being in their club.

Club involvement promotes a stronger sense of community awareness and belonging and young people feel part of their community. They also feel that they know others within their community and their level of community activity increased. The development of positive relationships in communities has been linked to positive well-being, health and academic achievement by other researchers. For community awareness and belonging, girls do better in relation to their problem-solving cooperation and sense of self-regard. Enhanced community awareness and belonging that was significantly improved is likely due to all the activities that young people get involved in including: charity fundraising, community clean-up days, environmental improvements and civic engagement projects. Involvement their community results in a sense of responsibility and pride in achievements, promoting self-regard which is linked to general well-being.

Young people felt a great sense of enjoyment in their participation, they gained an ability to work with others and problem solve. These developed friendships are significant to why people join and return to clubs and club activity fulfils an important role and need in the lives of young people. Furthermore, the club-climate/atmosphere was positive and promoted club participation, fairness, support & help from peers & leaders, feelings of belonging, acceptance. Younger members have a more positive sense of club participation and belonging than older members.

Qualitative findings highlight the safe environment, social element of mixing with friends, finding new friends, engage in focused activities & organise events, preference for trips-activities/projects-meeting friends- committee role, goal setting, sense of responsibility and ownership, putting forward of ideas, developing them collectively and cooperating through a consensus, team work, problem solving and collective participation, confidence, sense of achievement and community contributions.

Foróige’s Citizenship Programme

This research involved 289 young people in the first instance with 61 participating on the second occasion. They were compared to a comparison group who did not do the Citizenship programme. Quantitative findings found that young people who had previously taken part in a Citizenship programme were more likely to get involved in a community issue in the future than those who hadn’t. There was an increased perception of competence with being able to take action on community issues. Young people who take part in the citizenship programme are higher on civic competence than the comparison group. Involvement in the Citizenship Programme has a cumulative benefit – civic competence increases involvement in citizenship activities.

Ratings for the Citizenship Programme were very positive with 95% rating it as ‘good’ or better. Those who rated the programme as excellent were more likely to score highly on the participatory citizen scale. Qualitative findings included development of confidence and skills, awareness of the social needs of the community, successful in connecting young people with their communities, developing skills to undertake a citizenship project, sense of self-efficacy in their ability to address issues of concern, promoted bonding between team members and enhancing club development by having a common focus. Both the quantitative and qualitative data suggest that participation in the youth Citizenship Programme enhances young people’s perceived competence for civic action.

Foróige’s Leadership Programme

The Leadership study involved 431 young people, with 267 who had participated in the leadership programme and 164 in the comparison group. Measures of leadership, life skills, resilience, empathy and social support were used. A subset of young people categorised as high and low risk youth were further tracked to see the impact of the programme for them.

Overall quantitative findings include:

The Youth Leadership programme is effective in increasing and sustaining leadership skills over time. Leadership participants demonstrated a significant improvement in:

• Decision making

• Critical thinking

• Life skills

• Leadership skills

• Community involvement

Furthermore these benefits were maintained and others accrued over time, including

• Empathy

• Communication skills

• Goal setting

Youth who completed the leadership programme showed significant improvement when compared to the comparison group on factors such as

• Goal setting

• Empathy

• Critical thinking

• Communication skills

• Team work

• Problem solving

• Leadership skills

• Community involvement

Youth Leadership involvement increases resilience: Young people involved in the programme demonstrate significantly increased capacity to be resilient (to overcome the odds) when compared to the comparison group.

Youth Leadership improves social support: Participants demonstrated significantly improved perceived sibling support over time and enhanced emotional support when compared to the comparison group.

Self-perception of leadership improves for high & low risk youth over time: Self-perception of leadership capacity significantly improved for both groups over time. Importantly, the high risk group who initially demonstrate very poor self belief improved in terms of perception of leadership ability over time to the extent that by the end of the study they were on a par with the low risk youth.

Volunteer-led Research Report

Volunteer-led Research Briefing Paper

Citizenship Evaluation Report

Citizenship Evaluation Briefing Paper