The overall aim of The Robertson Trust is to improve the quality of life and realise the potential of people and communities in Scotland.
For those previously unaware of the role of the development team, we work in partnership with third sector and public sector agencies to invest in and provide practical support to specific portfolios of work within identified themes, previously called development themes.
Our focus is on developing the evidence base about what works, what doesn’t work and why. We then share the learning with a broad range of stakeholders to inform policy and practice so that as many people as possible can benefit from the learning.
Unsurprisingly, 2015/16 has been another busy year for the team and this year's Impact Report looks at the impact of some of the 16 new and on-going programmes we codesigned, funded, managed and evaluated within four themes:
- Criminal Justice
- Sport for Change
- Alcohol Misuse
- Early Intervention
We have continued to work with many organisations including third sector, public sector and other independent funders, and, equally as significantly, we have used the learning to inform our own recent strategic review resulting in a number of changes to the way we work.
Going forward, the team will now be known as the Innovation and Learning team and will drive forward this approach across the whole organisation, including our open grants and scholarship programmes. This means we will improve on how we collect and use evidence across The Robertson Trust to better evidence our own impact and make more informed decisions about where to direct our funding.
We will also continue to manage partnership awards (previously called development awards). These differ from our more traditional open grants programme, with organisations unable to apply for through our open application process. Instead, they may be invited to apply or awards may be advertised openly, depending on the programme.
In our current themes where learning has already been shared there is evidence that policy and practice have been influenced. The Trust will therefore not be taking these themes forward in the medium term, although the current projects within them will be managed to their end dates and relevant additional learning will continue to be shared.
Some of the programmes, meanwhile, will be incorporated into our new portfolios of work, which include preventing young people from entering the criminal justice system and improving the well-being of vulnerable women. There is more information about our plans for the future in the report.
There are also many examples throughout of the wider impact that our development programmes have had for individuals and communities, third sector organisations and on regional and national policy and practice.
It takes time, patience and above all a network of valued relationships to achieve this important goal of being able to sustain the learning about what works and ideally achieve change at scale.
We welcome your thoughts on the topics discussed in this report, including any ideas about how we can work together to strengthen our impact for individuals and communities in our specific areas of interest, as well as gathering and sharing evidence.
We'd also encourage anyone with an interest in any of the topics to keep an eye on our website and follow us on Twitter, where we will be sharing updates and key learning more frequently in the future.