Our DERN blog for today takes us to the British Academy, London, where Gina Reinhardt and the ImpacTeam hosted a conference to discuss the creation of the Spotlight Toolkit, in partnership with Catalyst. This new software is an evaluation program that allows organisations to input data on a number of different scenarios. People from a range of local government services involved in disaster prevention from Essex, Kent and further afield a gathered to take part in the event, to hear about the evaluation experiences of colleagues, the new toolkit and what it may mean for the future of Impact Evaluation. The team were tweeting throughout the day on @ImpacTeamEval, and giving demonstrations on what the toolkit would look like, and how it may work once it is launched in June.
Keiko Yamada, an exchange student from Japan who studied Disaster and Emergencies in her country, attended the conference for inspiration on her thesis project. She said of the event ‘Studying social impact in Japan is not as wide-spread as here, we have the knowledge, but it is not shared among peers, as it is here. The toolkit is very progressive.’ Amanda Johnstone from Essex Emergency Services, who had been working with Gina on benefits realization, said that ‘the toolkit could help in finding the missing link’ in their research.
The two key-note speakers who attended the event were Colin Baldwin, from the Suffolk County Council, and Kieran Moir, from Essex Fire and Rescue. Baldwin stated that he had a great working relationship with Gina and her team, and that they hoped to be able to use the toolkit in future to target rurally isolated communities, and adapt processes based on the generated results of Spotlight. Moir stressed the importance of funding and using the toolkit to assess whether communities are using their resources in the most effective ways to help their people. The residing message from the conference was that people needed to learn from the toolkit evaluation system and implement the policies and ideas that the system could generate. ‘Even if we have to change things, it doesn’t mean that we have failed, it just means that we are ready to embrace progress.’ Kieran Moir