EVALUATION & RESEARCH
I find evaluations fascinating as they give me an opportunity to look at both the content and the process of project implementation. As an objective outsider my interest is in the achievement of the stated objectives, the process of working together and ensuring that the project implementation responds to the current issues. My experience of designing and managing projects means that I know what to look for and what some of the problems are. I see the process of evaluation as being one of identifying whether the activities and achievements reflected the original project aspirations when the design was developed. Did it achieve what it set out to and what else was learnt along the way? Sometimes projects donít achieve the initial objectives and the evaluation is important to clarify why, whether what happened was effective in terms of what the overall aims were, whether the blocks were insuperable or a reflection of problems within the team or the organisation or the wider context. When asked to carry out an evaluation I always ask what are the contractors looking for, what do they want out of the process? An evaluation of the implementation or the objectives or both. I also ask about how stakeholders and beneficiaries were involved, what their experience was and what they got from being part of the process.
I have carried out a number of types of qualitative research over the years. My Research Diploma in Social Policy gave me the basic grounding and I have developed my skills through many years practical experience. I have, for example, done research to back up the many funding proposals I have written, carried out research to identify the range of services available to people in specific areas, looked at the employment of people with disabilities in the light of the disability discrimination legislation, the added value of patient involvement in projects. I have an especial interest in demystifying research and ensuring that the beneficiaries are closely involved in its development and implementation. Thus I ran, with CEIMH, a three year series of seminars developing the role of users working together with social work academics on research.