Renaisi and Dartington Service Design Lab are joint learning partners, on the first round of the Youth Endowment Fund’s Neighbourhood Fund, operating across five areas where there are high numbers of children and young people involved in crime and violence in England and Wales.

4 young people sitting outside on the grass.
Photo by Sharefaith from Pexels.

Renaisi and Dartington Service Design Lab are joint learning partners on The Neighbourhood Fund, funded by the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF). The Neighbourhood Fund is a place-based programme that aims to reduce youth violence in local neighbourhoods by involving local young people, the community and professionals in collectively creating solutions.

It responds to evidence that where crime is highly concentrated, young people are more likely to be engaged in or at risk of being involved in violent crime and is built on the hypothesis that it’s essential to work with the people and organisations who live and work in a place because they know their communities best.

The five areas are:

  1. Barkerend and Bowling, two inner-city areas of Bradford
  2. Grangetown and Butetown, just south of the city of Cardiff
  3. Cheetham Hill, north of Manchester city centre
  4. Lozells- Newtown, an inner-city area in West Birmingham
  5. Nelson, an area close to the town centre and seafront in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

In each area, the YEF has commissioned a local facilitator to build relationships and co-design solutions that will empower residents, and specifically young people, to make positive decisions about their future.

The learning partnership

The Neighbourhood Fund aims to build a body of evidence to support their approach, in direct response to there being a lack of evidence about whether and how community engagement and co-design approaches can reduce youth violence.

The purpose of the learning partnership is to help YEF to understand if and how this is happening.

Peter Babudu, Director of Impact at the Youth Endowment Fund, said:

“With support from Renaisi and Dartington Service Design Lab, the Youth Endowment Fund has an incredible opportunity to better understand how community-led approaches to preventing violence can keep young people safe.

At the moment, we’re working in Neighbourhood Fund areas to support local young people, the community and professionals to collectively develop solutions to violence. While we’re doing this, Renaisi and Dartington Service Design Lab will capture data and support local projects to adapt their approach as we learn about what’s working – and what’s not. And in the long term, they’ll help us develop a body of evidence about how place-based approaches can lead to change. By sharing this learning with our partners, we’ll be able to support more projects that make a real difference and keep more children safe from violence.”

Working in partnership with Dartington Service Design Lab, we will help build the evaluative capacity of the local areas to gather information and data that enables them to adapt what they do as they learn what works.

We have co-designed a theory of change with the YEF and the local facilitators that outlines assumptions about activities and the desired change, which will be tested and adapted throughout the five-year delivery period. This will support YEF and the place-based organisations to learn about what works, in which context, and build a body of evidence for the future.

Learning about the different approaches to engaging communities in tackling youth violence will be used by YEF to guide what they support.

Our combined experience

Together, Renaisi and Dartington bring experience of:

Place-based developmental evaluations

Renaisi and Dartington have extensive experience in developmental evaluation and learning partner roles, designed to help institutions learn and adapt iteratively. Dartington is the lead partner for the #iwill Fund Learning Partnership (collaborating with Renaisi). Other examples include Renaisi’s role as evaluator in the Health Foundation’s Economies for Healthier Lives programme and learning partnership with the place-based charity The Peel, in Clerkenwell.

Evidence and research related to youth violence prevention

Dartington is working closely with YEF on many initiatives and understands well their strategic and evidence-generation priorities. Dartington is the lead partner for YEF’s COVID-19 grants learning partnership, synthesising learning and insight from 129 grantees working in youth violence prevention. Dartington is also doing two more in-depth feasibility and pilot evaluations of first-round YEF grantees (Becoming A Man and Pause4Thought). 

Evaluating local co-design and systems change initiatives

Renaisi has considerable experience working on evaluations that focus on questions about place. This includes our role as evaluation and learning partner for the DCMS and Lottery-funded Place Based Social Action programme and for Local Motion, a place-based funding collaboration of six leading Trusts and Foundations.

This experience gives us considerable insight into the methods needed to understand and evaluate both developmental and systemic change in places.

Learning partnerships and formative evaluations

Both Renaisi and Dartington take on learning partnership roles to guide iterative learning and formation of strategies, interventions and partnerships working to improve outcomes for people and places.

This includes our work with Power to Change on their Empowering Places programme focused on catalysing new community businesses in areas of high deprivation, and Dartington’s Early Action Systems Change work focused on promoting adolescent mental health and reducing coercive control.

Find out more about Renaisi’s evaluation services and learning partnerships.

Find out more about Dartington Service Design Lab.

Find out more about the Neighbourhood Fund

Lily O’Flynn