Blog

Key learnings from Birmingham Changing Futures Together

Lauren Bennett
Lauren Bennett
Evaluations Manager

Since 2018, Revolving Doors has been leading on the evaluation of the Birmingham Changing Futures Together (BCFT) Programme. As one of the National Lottery Fulfilling Lives programmes, BCFT has sought to improve the way that services and systems work to improve outcomes for people experiencing multiple disadvantage in Birmingham.

The programme occurred in an everchanging political and social context. Yet BCFT was able to adapt when necessary. For example, remote delivery models meant that services remained accessible during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst the use of tools such as podcasts, videos and webinars allowed learning to continue to be shared.

BCFT has shown, time and time again, what an asset people with lived experience are in service design and delivery. As well as being a source of inspiration to people accessing support, those with lived experience in paid or voluntary roles built on their experiences to help organisations to:

  • ensure that their processes were accessible,
  • raise awareness of the multiple disadvantage group and their needs,
  • support other people and organisations to overcome challenges.

Now the programme has come to a close, many of these individuals that supported BCFT have gone onto other roles in the city – and will be able to continue to share their expertise and advocate for people facing multiple disadvantage.

People with experience of multiple disadvantage do not always know about or trust local services, and BCFT offer an opportunity to identify what factors. Other factors that were found to help to encourage people experiencing multiple disadvantage to engage with relevant services were:

  • sharing information in different ways – not just online
  • flexible approaches to the timing and location of appointments
  • staff that could develop trusting relationships with people they worked with
  • handovers between different staff and different organisations when a support worker changes, or when people are referred to another service for support.

As well as focus on individuals accessing services, we should not forget about the importance of staff wellbeing and workforce development. People’s experiences of services are often linked to the staff they work with, and so staff need the confidence and knowledge to support them appropriately and create positive experiences. This can be supported through practices implemented on BCFT and through other local organisations, such as:

  • reflective practice sessions
  • creating spaces to share learning and problem solve
  • ongoing training on specific needs (such as homelessness and mental ill health)
  • wider training opportunities on issues including trauma informed support, autism awareness, disability awareness, anti-racism and working with people who are LGBTQ+

We are grateful to the people accessing services as well as programme staff and partners, who took the time to share their learning and insights throughout the evaluation period, and we hope these learnings will inform the new Government-funded Changing Futures programme.

Although the programme has ended, much work remains to improve outcomes for people experiencing multiple disadvantage in Birmingham and beyond. Organisations need to build on BCFT’s legacy, and we look forward to supporting those people and services who wish to continue to add to the progress made.

If you would like more information about this evaluation, please contact lauren.bennett@revolving-doors.org.uk.