Pobal and the Department of Rural and Community Development have been developing a “Distance Travelled Tool” for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 – 2022 as a joint initiative over the past 12 months. A new webpage for the project has been set up and is available here.

The tool will support SICAP clients to identify priority areas for their personal and professional development and improve the recording of soft outcomes. The journey for an individual with multiple forms of disadvantage towards a hard outcome such as completing formal education or getting a job can take years rather than months, and often personal changes go unrecorded.

It’s an exciting project for Pobal and the Department of Rural and Community Development to be leading, working closely with Quality Matters and Trinity College Dublin. The tool has recently hit a project milestone; the first pilot phase has confirmed that the tool is now fully statistically validated.

This validated and innovative tool will measure the change and progress accrued in five areas; confidence, goal setting and self-efficacy; communication skills, including self-advocacy; connection with others; literacy and numeracy skills; and, other work-related skills.

Speaking about the development of the Tool, Jerry Murphy, Interim CEO Pobal explained:

“Pobal is delighted to jointly lead this project and sees this new soft outcomes tool as adding to Pobal’s expertise in the inclusive employment and social inclusion and equality spheres. We hope to be able to apply it to other Pobal-managed projects in time. SICAP supports those who are disadvantaged in Irish society and less likely to use mainstream services and in this context, measuring success can be complex and multifaceted. This project was developed in an effort to assist clients in their journey, deliver quality improvements in SICAP and to better illustrate the broad scope and impact of the programme in time.”

The tool has moved through the first pilot phase, resulting in a fully validated product, and is now entering phase 2 piloting with 15 volunteer Local Development Companies. Pobal, the Department of Rural and Community Development and Quality Matters have been working closely with Local Development Companies in a collaborative process to test the tool, get their experiences on engaging with clients through SICAP, and exploring how it could best be implemented. The tool development phase is expected to be finalised in late 2019, with a full roll-out in 2020.