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Are we there yet?

Colleagues, partners and friends (as well as a very good smattering of the plain curious) came together to celebrate the achievements of the Realising Ambition Programme in Scotland yesterday.

12 May 2017

It was the culmination of a five year UK-wide Big lottery Fund investment established to support the replication of 25 services designed to prevent youth offending, but as we heard it wasn’t the end of the road. It was the start of a new journey.

Realising Ambition’s reach has been amazing. Delivering across every nation of the United Kingdom and reaching over 160,000 young people during its lifetime, the programme has always been about more than numbers. Our mission has been to support delivery organisations test, refine and adapt their Realising Ambition service. It has been to help them improve what they do on an on-going and continuous basis. It has been to improve the evidence base of what works for whom and why in avoiding pathways into offending. Importantly, our mission has been to promote learning about what it takes to replicate evidence-based interventions as well as to help commissioners, funders and policy makers ask the right questions about evidence, practice and impact.

Yesterday we had a clear set of messages from our presenters. Although the funding has finished, the impact of the services funded by Realising Ambition still resonate. And rather than moving on to something completely new and different, chasing the funding for the funding’s sake, all of the organisations within the portfolio are now in a place where they can engage commissioners and funders with confidence and with a compelling case for why their programme works. They are confident about the impact of their service, its design integrity, and their ability to adapt to local circumstances whilst retaining fidelity to the core components that make the service work.

Testimony came on the day from young people, head teachers and parents who had experienced first-hand the transformative power of services which have people at their heart. But testimony also came from the fact that all of the Scottish organisations are continuing on their replication journey now that Realising Ambition is ending. Sustaining the investment Realising Ambition has made and the learning Realising Ambition has supported runs through the life blood of our delivery partners. Action for Children is working with the local authority in Renfrewshire to sustain and embed Family Functional Therapy whilst spreading the replication to adjacent local authority areas. Members of the Children’s Parliament are engaging the United Nations, as well as the Scottish Parliament, explaining to them the importance of keeping momentum on the children’s rights agenda. YMCA Scotland is continuing to support partners in 11 areas to deliver their transformational PlusOne Mentoring service – as well as replicating the service in Canada, with interest from across the global YMCA family. Barnardo’s continues to grow its support to Scottish schools, helping them to develop the emotional intelligence of their children (and adults!) through PATHS Plus and their Life Skills Training programmes. And the inspirational young people trained and supported by Anne Frank Trust’s Schools and Ambassadors Programme, continue to educate us all about the consequences of intolerance and hatred…Realising Ambition has indeed been a journey, not a destination…

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