Present: Mr. Michael Wardlow (Chair), Dr. David Stevens, Ms. Libby Keys, Ms. Eileen Gallagher
Observer: Ms. Jane Corderoy
Staff: Ms. Alison Keenan, Mr. Paul Jordan, Dr. Duncan Morrow, Ms. Jacqueline Irwin, Ms. Roisin McGuire, Ms. Kimberley MacDonald (Minute Taker)
1. Apologies: Ms. Jane Leonard, Mr. Barney Devine, Ms. Maura Muldoon
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting (15th February 2006)
3. Matters Arising
Members were advised that the Centre for Contemporary Christianity has a growth budget which seeks funds from non-public sources.
Members were advised that the Beat Initiative see CRC as having a key role over the next 2 years in their development of alternative funding sources as drives by them in the past have been unsuccessful
Members were advised Women into Politics received £19,000 from core funding, a further £34,000 has been agreed by CRU to be managed directly by them.
Letter from Ulster People's College to be discussed at the end of the meeting
Members raised the question of whether there are procedures for a brokering role in the transfer of funding to departments. Dr. Morrow advised that all CRC can do is represent the case. There is no formal procedure.
4. Officer's Reports
Were taken as read.
Members asked if the delay in convening the review panel had had a detrimental effect on groups. Ms. Keenan advised that in the case of Ballymurphy, they were not in receipt of funding. It is a new post so there is no direct effect. NIMMA have taken the decision to continue to operate on reserves for a three month period. The delay in decision would be likely to affect this organisation.
On the basis of the report received from Future Ways there was extensive discussion, the key aspects of which were as follows:
Ms Keenan acknowledged that much of what is raised in the report is not new, but rather affirms what staff already think or are discussing
There is a need to get organisations together on a thematic basis
Need to be better at documenting learning
Pointing in direction that we are going in already
CRC's weakness is its limited ability to provide support
A greater clarity is required regarding the difference between evaluation for good practice and community relations
Process is made more complicated because in the end committee has an obligation to make hard decisions and this fact needs to be stated. With a limited budget it is inevitable that people doing good work will come in outside of resources available.
Committed funds for 6-9 years with finite pot leaves limited funds available for new people
Reflection- current 3 month report seeks to do two things: (1) what are you doing? (objectives), (2) Learning - perhaps it might be better to ask groups annually about how they're meeting their objectives, every 3-6 months about learning
Members were advised that the European programme has six month monitoring mechanisms, anything less not a lot of time for things to happen. Might be a good idea to strike a balance by continuing with 3 monthly meetings.
Nature of work should determine that evaluation, set up customized contracts- important to be part of contract when award was made
Evaluation made up of two components: (1) value for money- ie monitoring against spend, (2) Value of project - intrinsic to sector, learning etc which is much more difficult to evaluate
We need to move beyond monitoring
Flexibility in the CRC not seen anywhere else
Dilemma has been that reports to date are not really evaluations on what we need to do better - need to be more critical
3 kinds of material required: (1) Financial (spend/target driven), (2) Learning (thematic, collective elements), (3) some measurement- assessment of fit for purpose (is the organisation still fit for purpose?)
Word evaluation depends on what you do with material. If CRC get the material together, it lessens dependency on others, making the advocacy role of CRC easier
Goal is to have active capacity to learn from practice being supported and on given information
How do we use evaluations in a way that is not just for internal learning?
Purpose of evaluations - if as mechanism to weigh groups against each other favours groups already in receipt core funding
In four funding cycles never encountered an evaluation that was not good or that stated that the group were not doing important work
Report serving purpose of decision when it should not. Should be a tool for management - areas where group can be developed and weaknesses
If committee receive a bad evaluation it hammers a group's chances at renewal of funding
Not clear as to why information should not be used appropriately to make appropriate decisions- use all information available to you to come to a decision
Word evaluation covers too many things - used interchangeably – evaluation - what value do you place on this?
It was suggested that Committee need to take time to review, look at where they want to go in the future- then go into funding decision cycle and utilize skills of committee members to match applications to identified direction
Paradox - we all have to do evaluations, but makes no difference - very expensive placebo effect
Acknowledged reluctance on the part of evaluators to tell bare-face truth if something is not working - the only people who can do that are the committee
Define what's been satisfactory – “What have you as an organisation learned? How have you shared that with the community?”
“Is the organisation developing internally?” “Is it fitting into a larger community relations environment?”
Intellectual challenge - monitoring change during change is difficult
Struggling with success on two levels: (1) Monitoring mechanisms catch most problems early on, dealt with day-to-day, (2) It is not easy to become a Core Funded group, therefore would not expect to be getting a lot of bad application - which is a good result
If we want to assess a group against financial factors it is quantitative - as opposed to: What were the targets? Were the targets met? (qualitative)
Deciding whether things fit into a larger community relations environment is something that only CRC can do
Have to look at the speed one would expect change in different places
More of a possibility for the council to decide where to go, can isolate specific business to be attended to, this will be more helpful to the committee in the future
Members acknowledged there should have been time for reflection and discussion on exactly what is sought
Members were reminded that previously it had been mentioned about setting up an internal group to look at issues - offer remains open to all committee members if anyone wants to participate
6. Terms of Reference for External Evaluation
Ms Keenan stated the intention of staff to get tendering process completed in June, appoint someone in July, start work in August
Dr Stevens queried if there was any advantage in prescribing what the report looks like?
Dr Morrow stated that the terms of reference need to be clear. A pro-forma should be attached to the end with a summary and evidence of where it can be found in the body of the report. An executive summary which uses the terms of reference clearly is also required
Ms Irwin pointed out that typically there is no conclusion in the reports
Dr Stevens suggested that this hesitancy to draw conclusions could be due to the size of the community relations sector
Dr Morrow suggested that there should be three columns: terms of reference, comment, and evidence to enable comparison
Ms Keys requested that the terms used (good and less good) be changed. It was agreed to switch terms to effective and less effective
7. Draft Business for External Evaluation
Paper was agreed for submission to CRU
Correspondence from Ulster People's College. It was agreed that this was an opportunity for clarification, particularly on the issue of mainstreaming. Mr Wardlow to respond on behalf of committee.
Dates of Future Meetings Are as Follows:
September 13th 2006 1-4pm in Dungannon October 11th 2006 1-4pm in Belfast (tentative) December 12th 2006 1-4pm in Belfast