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The pants that changed women’s lives

March 8, 2019
Ammy and Louise from MsMissMrs

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, our Digital Communications Officer, Aymie Black, headed out to the West End of Glasgow to visit MsMissMrs – a social enterprise empowering women from a variety of backgrounds.

It was a cold and wet Wednesday afternoon when I first walked into the colourful and cosy haven of MsMissMrs. From its open space and big windows to its lovingly chosen scatter cushions and beanbags; I soon realised that this was no ordinary space – this was a sanctuary.

Louise, the operations manager of MsMissMrs, cheerfully welcomed me in and I complimented her on how lovely she keeps the hub. She responded that she ‘would like everyone to have somewhere that makes them feel special’. The space – and the organisation for that matter – is summed up in that one word: special. Testament to this, when MsMissMrs is brought up in conversation, people animatedly recount their ‘Empowerment Pants’; the organisation’s boldly designed undies for ladies, to help raise funds to support their work.

Louise and Ammy chatting about Get S.E.T.

MsMissMrs received a National Lottery grant in 2017 to fund their Get S.E.T (Self Empowerment Training) programme for women and girls who have experienced a difficult life journey, as a result of poverty, addiction, abuse, homelessness or poor mental health.

As Louise and I sat down she told me more about the programme which offers practical strategies and life-enhancing tools for women and girls from a variety of backgrounds. This includes a bespoke training package – consisting of a Self-Empowerment programme for girls aged 10-18 and a self-care plan for women who are rebuilding self-esteem and wellbeing. What’s extraordinary about the programme is that it takes place in the uplifting environment of their wellbeing hub, and provides tailored and authentic support to help women make changes in their life – free of judgment.

Louise explained that many women build a relationship with their organisation initially through Get S.E.T. – but continue their journey by attending other activities and classes like their meditation, yoga and sewing classes. Louise excitedly exclaims that women ‘don’t want to leave!’. As advertised on their pants, MsMissMrs aims to empower women to help them realise their own potential.

Ammy working in her new role at MsMissMrs

Evidence of this, is the incredible Ammy Nicholson – a 22-year-old mum from Denniston, who was introduced to MsMissMrs through their Get S.E.T. programme. I previously knew Ammy through a film we had shared at the start of her journey, so I was more than excited to hear that Ammy has gone from strength to strength. Ammy is not only a cherished advocate for MsMissMrs, but now she works for the organisation – with the goal that in the future she can help facilitate the programme that helped her find her own strength.

Ammy told me about the moment she first walked into MsMissMrs:

“Everyone was so welcoming, it wasn’t like walking into an office or a meeting – there’s beanbags and there’s women chatting – all talking together. They were all just so nice!”

MsMissMrs Get S.E.T. programme

MsMissMrs was there for Ammy at the beginning, when she struggled with self-esteem after having her little girl Caragh. With her new found confidence, and her array of skills – Ammy looks to give back to the organisation that helped her flourish.

“I used to feel as if I didn’t have anything to do when Caragh was at nursery. If I was to remain the way I was, lying in bed watching Netflix – that would’ve taken me back to a depression.

“I like coming here, I’ve got other adults to have a conversation with. Before it was just talking to Caragh, talking on my phone or speaking with Caragh’s nursery teachers – then I’d go home sit in the house myself.

“I didn’t think last year I’d be where I am now!”

MsMissMrs is a place that provides a multitude of support for women and girls to help them unlock their potential. Speaking with Louise and Ammy resonated with me – that with the right support, all women can thrive. I wished the ladies goodbye as I headed back to the office – feeling inspired, and with my women empowerment pants firmly on.

Let’s make grant reporting more useful for everyone

March 19, 2019

There are many great feelings associated with securing grant funding and delivering activities that make a difference to people’s lives. It’s safe to say that the topic of grant reporting, however, rarely generates as much joy or enthusiasm. But what if that reporting was actually useful to you and your peers, helping you to reflect, improve, share learning and make connections?

Well, conversations in important forums such as The Gathering suggest that 2019 could be the year to change this. Through the publications of IVAR’s ‘New Principles for Grant Reporting’, we see more funders – including the National Lottery Community Fund – committing to improving their practice.I

The principles have been developed to make grant reporting less stressful and burdensome for grantholders, and they challenge funders to acknowledge that it is within our gift to ‘make grant reporting a shared, more meaningful and mutually beneficial experience’.

The funder blog force on this topic has also been strong recently, with The Robertson Trust and the Corra Foundation sharing honest experiences and clear commitments for the year ahead.  We share many of their experiences and aspirations, from maximising the evidence grantholders share with their funder to developing closer, more equal relationships with funded organisations.

We want to be a funder that is associated with these principles and positive practices. We’re doing not too badly on some fronts, but we know we can do better.

Our aim: simple, clear and flexible reporting

Starting with the positive, we recently asked some of our grantholders about their experiences of reporting and we were pleased to hear that customers found the process proportionate, relevant and useful. This year, we’ll remain committed to some simple goals for reporting:

We ask grantholders with grants of over £10,000 to report back on four things:

  • What have you done?
  • What difference have you made?
  • What have you learned?
  • What have you spent?

Grantholders can choose to report via a form or in another way – alternatives could include an evaluation, a film, case studies and/or a report produced for another funder.

More support, reassurance and focus on what’s useful to you

But we recognise that some grantholders (particularly new ones) continue to have some worries about open and honest reporting to us, and we want to change this.

We also know we could be clearer about what our expectations for reporting will be at the application stage, so groups can build this into their plans and so we can support with this.

Evaluation Support Scotland offer fantastic workshops and tailored support around learning, evaluation and reporting and we’re delighted to continue to offer grantholders free access to this support throughout 2019. Crucially, their support is focused first and foremost on what data and evidence you would find valuable to collect – not just what funders want.

What we’re working on: sharing the learning

A key area we’re committed to improving this year is making better use of the information grantholders share with us. At an event last year, a member of a community organisation said:

‘Funders like you must have cupboards bursting with information and evaluations. You should share more of what you know because we want to learn from it.’

It was a call to action, and a fair one at that. We currently use the information you share with us to check everything is going ok with your grant, to refer organisations to support if required and to connect organisations where peer to peer learning can be facilitated. We find it difficult to aggregate and identify learning from the thousands of projects that we fund, but we’re committed to trying different approaches to share learning this year.

As a first step we’re going to start tweeting snippets of learning we’ve gleaned from your reports. We also have ideas to hold more face-to-face events that could bring groups together to share learning, and to write up these conversations.

But we need your help to make this useful and relevant! As we start sharing stuff we’d really appreciate your feedback – – is the learning we’re sharing interesting and of value? Are there particular topics you’d like us to identify learning around? Would you like us to share learning you’ve identified from your work? How we best do this together?

NOTE: Please get in touch with your Funding Officer if you’re interested in accessing support from Evaluation Support Scotland.

If you would like to know more you can contact us at: @elfmhairi @rowanboase

Involving young people to lead on evaluation

March 11, 2019

This is a guest blog post by Nicola Swan, ESS Evaluation Support Manager, about the user involvement work she has been leading.

Involving young people to lead on evaluation?!

Isn’t that a bit risky?

Surely young people wouldn’t be interested?

How would we even get started on this?

If these are some of the questions running through your mind when you think about service users or participants taking responsibility for evaluation, then read on!

ESS has been working with The National Lottery Community Fund to support their grantholders to try handing the evaluation reins over to young people they engage with.  Seven projects in the youth work sector stepped up to test out different ways of supporting young people to take the lead with evaluation, from agreeing project outcomes to designing evaluation tools, analysing feedback and sharing findings. 

We held a learning session to help project leads identify the right stage and time to involve young people. Some also tapped into ESS’s good practice guide Why Bother Involving People in Evaluation? Beyond feedback which provides hints, tips and prompts to help people plan how they will get young people on board. 

While it was a bumpy ride at times, several project leads found that their initial concerns that young people wouldn’t be interested in taking on evaluation tasks were generally unfounded. Young people were enthusiastic and committed (particularly if there was pizza involved!).   

Some highlights

At Gowrie Care two young people replaced a wordy exit questionnaire which everyone hated with a more user-friendly emoji game to gather feedback. One young person reflected that…

 ‘It was an honour to be asked and included in something that is ultimately going to help future service users.’

Young people from the Springhall and Whitlawburn Youth Development Team voted on their preferred evaluation methods. As the young people chose the evaluation questions and method (post-it wall), the development worker feels that not only do they get richer feedback, they can also get evaluation of sessions done without lots of moaning!

After encouraging young people to use visual tools to share their experiences, South Ayrshire Befriending then involved young people in analysing and reporting back.

What we’ve learnt

Supporting young people to be more involved in evaluation decisions seems to work particularly well if it’s not tokenistic – when there’s a real sense of young people contributing meaningfully. Through this programme we’ve been really encouraged to see young people improving the evaluation methods and tools organisations are using.

While it might feel a bit risky to start with, supporting young people to shape evaluation not only enables them to take ownership of the project but can help build skills and confidence.  It’s also a reminder for organisations about why they exist!

Overall the message we’ve taken away from this piece of work is that young people are fantastic problem solvers. If you feel that something isn’t working well with your evaluation (perhaps your project outcomes don’t feel right or the tools don’t give you rich feedback), we suggest asking young people to get stuck in.

What next?

On 11th April in Edinburgh, we will be bringing organisations together from across the youth work sector to share learning more widely and inspire others to think about how they could go ‘beyond feedback’ with their young people.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Evaluation Support Scotland

Contact us:

T. 0131 243 2770


Scottish Charity No. SC036529 Company No. SC284843

National Lottery support for Edinburgh and Glasgow homelessness

February 19, 2019
Glasgow City Centre

Over the last three months our funding teams in Edinburgh and Glasgow have been taking a new approach to how our National Lottery funding can support projects addressing homelessness and related issues in those cities.

We’ve held stakeholder sessions and lived experience workshops to gain insight as to where we might make a difference. What has come through is that National Lottery support is likely to add greatest value if it is supporting projects that are doing the following things:

  • Delivered by organisations that are actively collaborating or working in partnership
  • Supporting the prevention of homelessness or engaged in early action to deal with the causes of homelessness
  • Placing those with lived experience at the heart of their development
  • Innovative projects looking to directly address clear gaps or opportunities created with the launch of the Scottish Government and COSLA ‘Ending Homeless Together High Level Action Plan’ in your city. 

As a result we now have funding available for projects in both Edinburgh and Glasgow from our Improving Lives programme.

We expect all applications meet one of the outcomes of Improving Lives and MUST also focus on all FOUR areas (noted above) where National Lottery add value and can fill a gap in provision.

We hope this more strategic approach to a clear issue in both these cities will allow our contribution to be meaningful. While our average grant size is currently £350k in Improving Lives, we are aware the costs of these types of projects can be significantly more than this and will review each proposal when it is received.

We hope to turn these applications around more quickly than is usual. This will be a single stage application process with decisions made by our Scotland Committee early in May.

If you are interested in this work please get in touch and have a conversation with our funding team.

Key dates

  • March 29 2019 deadline for all applications to be submitted
  • April 2019     assessment
  • May 2019       all decisions made

If you are working to address homelessness and related issues in any other area of Scotland then you can apply for funding from Improving Lives at anytime. Please talk to one of our funding team to discuss your idea or proposed activity.

If you have any questions please contact

Link to Improving Lives:

A Young Starters Guide

February 18, 2019
Gillian Katungi, Communications and Engagement Officer – Young Start

If you’re thinking about applying for a Young Start grant but feel a little uncertain about where to start or what we’re looking for, this is for you! Inspired by conversations with existing grant holders, potential applicants and our funding officers, this video will take you on a whistle stop tour of Young Start, providing hints and tips on what to think about along the way.

A transcript of the FAQs are also included below. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch!

Frequently Asked Questions

 Q: Can I apply to Young Start if my organisation has had Young Start funding in the past?

A: Yes you can. However, we aren’t always able to offer continuous funding so we may occasionally need to prioritise groups who have received less funding from us before. We’re happy to discuss this with you in advance though.

Q: Do you only fund new projects or ideas?

A: No. Young Start grants are available for both new ideas and existing projects that are already up and running.

Q: Do you cover salaries and overhead costs?

A: Yes, young start funding can be used to fund salaries and overhead costs. But don’t just apply for salary or equipment costs – make sure that you also include costs of the activities that will deliver the outcomes for young people.

Q: How much can I request and over how many years?

A: This really depends on the project, what you’d like funding to cover and how long you’ll need the funding to deliver your project. Our advice is to demonstrate the impact that will come from the amount of funding you’re requesting.

Also be realistic about the number of young people that your project will benefit, sometimes the more beneficiaries your project has, the less impact your work might have.

Q: How old is a young person and does it matter if people fall outside of the age range?

A: Young Start is aimed at young people between 8 and 24. So your project and its impact should really be focused on this age range however, that doesn’t mean that the wider community can’t benefit from the project or that your project can’t add value to others.

We have funded projects that help young people connect with older and younger generations through their activities.

Q: Am I unlikely to be funded if another project provides a similar service?

As one of our approaches is about being connected to your community and having great relationships, we would like to see projects collaborate rather than duplicate efforts.

Q: Do you fund sports projects?

A: We do fund projects that involve sports however, we are looking for projects that can demonstrate why the activities are important to the specific community or young people that you’re aiming to support.

Naturally sport creates a healthier lifestyle but we’d like to know how young people will be involved in the development, design and delivery of your project. It helps to think about the following:

  • Why your project is necessary for the particular group of young people that you are working with. How young people’s lives and outcomes will be changed.
  • How will your project have a long term impact on young people, their families and their communities?
  • Are the young people that you’re supporting farthest away from taking part in play or sport? Do they have existing health issues?
  • Are young people at risk of developing health issues? Be sure to express this to us in your application.

Finally, when speaking to us or writing your application, remember to tell us about the specific project you want funding for and use clear examples of the activities. Remember not to focus on previous projects or activities that aren’t specifically related to the project you’re applying for.

The form isn’t online because we’d love to have an informal chat about your idea first. This will help you, and us, understand if the project is a potential fit for the programme.

If you’re keen to have a conversation please email us at or call us on 0300 123 7110.

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