Since 2017 Skyblue has worked closely to support, evaluate and inform the ongoing development of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area including:
- the supply of a monitoring and co-ordinating role for the NYCOA-supported Essential Life Skills Fund that saw 18 providers work to improve social mobility in the area through education. This Department for Education funded project aimed at coastal communities in Scarborough, Whitby and Filey has seen providers deliver diverse out of school extra-curricular sport, art, culture, experiential learning, therapy and social action interventions.
- a summative review of NYCOA between 2017 and 2022 to help identify the learning lessons and to inform future investment models, partnership and intervention approaches where education can support social mobility.
Since 2020, Skyblue has been helping to conceive the long-term Education Programme for the Anglo American-owned Woodsmith Project. This is a significant Programme from 2022 to 2030 that will aim to equip disadvantaged young people in Scarborough Borough and Redcar and Cleveland Borough with the same choices, chances and personal development opportunities as their non-disadvantaged peers. It will encourage them to develop skills that will connect to their aspirations. Staff in participating schools will benefit from an exciting range of CPD that can inform their practice and connect the curriculum with the real world and local communities.
The Timpson Review (2019) identified a range of significant challenges in England’s school system that have been leading to a rise in permanent and fixed term exclusions. We are conducting an independent evaluation of a project aimed at reducing rates of exclusion on the East Coast of North Yorkshire working with primary and secondary schools, pupils, teachers, specialists (including educational psychologists), families, carers, support workers and alternative provision organisations until 2022. After 3 years of investment it is hoped that the Project will have encouraged inclusive practice that participating schools will sustain. A key element of support has been behaviour management CPD for all staff in the catchment supported by experts in this field. Young people directly benefit from the support around them, and improvements in their agency are being measured.
Physical and mental health
For over 20 years Skyblue has undertaken research aimed at helping clients design and deliver programmes that deliver physical and mental health benefits. This ranges from European youth health champion peer projects, to coach and volunteer workforce development planning and helping understand the social return of initiatives aimed at different segments of the population from the least to most active in society. Our long term relationship with North Yorkshire Sport continues to help improve activity levels in this county and provide leadership and innovation with an array of sporting and non-sporting partners.
More recently our emphasis has been on:
- supporting the evolution of a Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Programmes across North Yorkshire.
- supporting the development and content creation of Head First, the North Yorkshire Mental Health Training Hub.
- evaluating a variety of programmes aimed at improving emotional health and wellbeing, notably the Sirius Minerals Foundation’s 2 year grant programme (2022-2024) to support these positive outcomes for children and young people.
Loneliness and Social Isolation
Skyblue was privileged to author the North Yorkshire Framework for Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation ‘Be Social Be Well’ (see article right). This was a multi-agency commission that has led to the co-design of 5 strategic ambitions to create positive change between 2020 and 2026. Inspired by real lives and stories of people overcoming loneliness, the work is just one strand of a wider ‘Building Connections Fund’ initiative in the county that includes a number of campaigns to encourage connections, conversations and stronger relationships developed across all communities and contexts. The Framework’s emphasis is preventative, but it also recognises the urgent need to reach, understand and support those who experience feelings of chronic loneliness as this can have many negative health, economic and wider societal consequences.
Poverty and inequality
Commissioned by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Skyblue developed and successfully delivered a customised learning, coaching and development programme for 14 local charities that aim to reduce poverty and tackle inequalities in the City of York. The organisations vary significantly in their scope. They include those working to support people who feel marginalised or discriminated against, young people to improve their aspirations, older people to develop their confidence to step back into employment through to individuals that have suffered abuse or have barely enough to get by from day-to-day. This programme aimed to develop the capability of these charities to demonstrate their impact so that they can improve their support services and work with investors and funders to focus effort where it can make greatest difference in future. One of the participating charities subsequently won a national award for their impact practice (see article right hand column)
Some of our most valuable learning has come from evaluating projects aimed at tackling disadvantage in society including but not limited to people with disabilities, physical, mental, learning and sensory impairments, autistic individuals, refugees and asylum seekers and young people furthest away from the labour market. Our work simply aims to ensure that the voices of these under-represented people are accurately reflected in our research studies and assessments to better improve services and self-support resources in future.
OCAY wins Impact Award!
Skyblue is delighted to learn that following the delivery of its ‘understanding impact’ coaching programme, OCAY (Older Citizens Advocacy York) has won the ‘Improving Impact’ Charity Governance Awards 2020 category award for 0-3 staff charities. Our congratulations to Ruth Potter, OCAY’s inspirational Charity Manager and her team. Thanks also to the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust whose Funder Plus Programme enabled Skyblue to design and deliver the Programme to multiple charities across York as a collective.
Be Social, Be Well
This is the new strategy authored by Skyblue on behalf of partners who are aiming to tackle loneliness and social isolation in North Yorkshire.