LWC completed their evaluation of the Green PLACE project in early 2023. The project recognised the value of our local places and ecology and was borne out of a spirit of community that took new meanings in the era of social distancing. The project’s activities were designed as vehicles for young people to develop a greater sense of connection to nature, heritage and place, and develop skills to be able to take action to look after and protect them collaboratively. Underlying these aims was the understanding that this connection and empowerment would also improve young people’s sense of belonging and wellbeing. The project partners were also keen to put the young people and communities’ perspectives and experiences of local places at the core by ensuring that they got to define the focus of projects.
The project was led by our Global Learning partners at Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) in partnership with North Pennines Area of Outstanding National Beauty Partnership and Play-ful Nature, and extended across Cumbria. They also aligned with the aims of zero carbon initiatives across Cumbria, led by Cumbria Action for Sustainability.
Our tasks as external evaluators was to ensure these activities were delivering the desired outcomes for the project’s key beneficiaries. We also had to make sure that just like the project itself, the evaluation centred the experiences of young people involved in the project. Liverpool World Centre’s multi-pronged participatory evaluation strategies worked really well in this project, involving not only young people but also teachers, youth workers and the wider community. LWC used a wide range of participatory activities, co-created with partners and stakeholders, that allowed them to shape and articulate their interpretations of project aims and objectives, and build their evaluation skills.
For partners the evaluation process and report helped them to ‘fundamentally shape the project and give it structure….and how we might build on this. In particular, how we build in depth and greater opportunities to explore connections, perceptions and agency’.