National Development Project Fund (NDPF) - evaluation: final report

Evaluation of ten projects funded by the National Development Project Fund (NDPF) - part of our investment in services to support people with problem alcohol and drug use.

3 Implementation and impact

This section focuses on the implementation and impact of the National Development Project Fund. A summary of each project is followed by an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ten projects, and a review of the fund management arrangements.

NDPF-funded projects 

The following pages present summaries of each of the ten NDPF-funded projects. The summaries are grouped by the three NDPF priorities: advocacy services; family inclusive services and support; and start-up investment. 

Each summary describes how NDPF was used by the organisation, seeks to assess progress against their stated outcomes (as far as possible based on the information available), and presents key findings from the review of each project particularly consultation with the staff, beneficiaries, partner agencies, and other stakeholders.

Project 1: Represent Recovery

Lead organisation: East Ayrshire Advocacy Services
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £139,573

East Ayrshire Advocacy Service developed the Represent Recovery service employing two additional full-time advocacy workers to support people with substance use problems across East Ayrshire. Extensive awareness raising undertaken at the outset with statutory and third sector services led to the engagement of 135 people using the service by the end of December 2020.

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • Through advocacy people involved in the project with drug and alcohol problems are supported in their recovery journey and to improve their wellbeing.
  • People are more able to access recovery focused services.
  • People are more engaged with recovery focused services.

There was limited quantitative evidence available to fully assess progress against the outcomes. The project intended tracking engagement with substance use services however this data was not forthcoming. Qualitative evidence presented in the monitoring reports and during consultations, and drug and alcohol outcome star data, suggests good progress has been made in supporting people in their recovery journey.

Key findings

  • Partner agencies, and those using the service, all regarded as beneficial the lived experience of the two advocacy workers. It enabled the workers to engage people using the service and apply their understanding and knowledge of recovery and services. 
  • The advocacy workers provided a broad range of support. They supported people to engage and re-engage with substance use services and to access other services such as Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In addition, the workers also provided recovery-focused emotional and practical support which appears to have been complementary, and in some cases, a preferred alternative to substance use services. The support included individual and group activities, delivered in-person and online during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Cases were highlighted where the advocacy workers were seen as providing crucial, life-saving support for people with substance use issues. 
  • The advocacy service appears to be well known, integrated and highly regarded among substance use service commissioners and providers in East Ayrshire. The workers have helped bridge gaps between people providing and using services at various levels. 
  • NHS addiction services engaged with the advocacy service although some challenges were highlighted. The complex needs of people using services, workloads, COVID-19 related restrictions, and limited understanding of advocacy's role and how it could potentially support people using the service were identified as issues.

Project 2: Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Advocacy Service

Lead organisation: The Advocacy Project
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £150,000

The Advocacy Project was awarded NDPF funding to deliver independent advocacy to people with alcohol and drug issues in Glasgow. The project provided comprehensive training, including input from Scottish Drugs Forum and Shelter Scotland, to upskill their team of existing advocacy workers. Extensive awareness raising with public and third sector services including Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service, led to 331 referrals by mid-December 2020.

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • Prevention - Individuals at risk of developing problem alcohol and substance use to access independent advocacy at an early stage to assist their engagement with prevention focused support services.
  • Recovery - Individuals and their families engaged in the recovery pathway have access to independent advocacy to support their sustained and stable recovery. 
  • Rights and Respect – There is evidence of greater respect and less stigma for individuals accessing recovery focussed care pathways.
  • Harm Reduction - Independent advocacy contributes to the reduction of harm from problem use of alcohol and drugs by providing independent support to individuals on co-producing their own recovery pathway.
  • Family - Independent advocacy supports individuals to sustain or re-establish positive & nurturing relationships with their children and families, leading to safer families and children. 
  • Society/Community - Independent advocacy assists individuals to have equal rights and a valued role in their community, building positive social networks. 
  • Wellbeing - Independent advocacy supports individuals to focus on their physical and mental wellbeing by accessing a range of recovery-oriented services through their recovery journey. 

Quantitative and qualitative evidence presented in the monitoring reports and during consultations suggests good progress has been made; particularly towards the outcomes related to prevention, recovery, rights and respect, and harm reduction. 

Key findings

  • A comprehensive approach to planning, including referral criteria and pathways, and awareness raising, including presentations and promotional material, led to strong demand for the service.
  • Outreach, involving drop-in at services including recovery cafés/hubs in three localities across Glasgow, aided access and engagement and was replaced by online and telephone support provided during COVID-19 restrictions. 
  • People using the service were provided with independent support on a range of issues including housing, health, benefits, and recovery engagement/re-engagement.
  • Upskilling existing workers ensured the service was not affected by staff turnover issues. Staff were also attuned to alcohol and drug issues when supporting those using the service who experience other issues.
  • Generally there was good awareness and understanding of the advocacy service among alcohol and drug services, although there were exceptions.
  • Robust monitoring and evaluation processes gathered detailed information about people using the services, support, and individual outcomes.
  • Approximately a third of referrals did not go on to access the service. The organisation suggested that reasons for this included; a reluctance to engage; referrals for statutory processes not progressing (for example people detained under the Mental Health Act where the detention was later revoked); and  the initial support issue having been resolved when contacted by the service.

Project 3: Problematic Substance Use Advocacy Service

Lead organisation: AdvoCard
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £180,000

NDPF funding supported three staff members - a Development Co-ordinator, Advocacy Worker and time allocated for a Volunteer Co-ordinator - to provide an independent advocacy service for people with problem alcohol and drug use in Edinburgh. The service set out to provide individual casework, collective advocacy and support decision-making by preparing strategic structures to respond to collective advocacy. During 2020, 152 people received individual advocacy support. An independent evaluation was ongoing at the time of the programme evaluation.

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • People are attracted to, and engage with, the service.
  • People are satisfied with the service and self-report that they: are more in control of their lives; are more involved in decisions that affect them; are more supported in making informed choices; have more influence over the services that they use; are better understood by others; are listened to more by others; and are better informed about available options.
  • We are able to recruit volunteer advocates (including a number with lived experience of addiction) and enable them to intervene effectively.
  • Collective advocacy fora can be developed and strategic decision makers enabled to respond to their concerns.

Based on the quantitative and qualitative information presented in the monitoring reports and during the consultations limited progress was evident in meeting the above outcomes. The service was not able to recruit volunteer advocates because of COVID-19 restrictions. Collective advocacy groups had been established prior to the first COVID-19 lockdown but ended due to the restrictions and individuals' inability to connect digitally; there was no evidence available that the groups influenced strategic decision makers. Two people using the service who were interviewed as part of this evaluation reported that the project had a positive impact on their recovery.

Key findings

  • The organisation reported that the project addressed an identified gap in advocacy support for people with alcohol and drug problems and is well regarded by substance use support services and the ADP.
  • Through this initiative the organisation has expanded its knowledge, connections and impact beyond their primary focus (mental health).
  • A lack of awareness from services more broadly about the role of advocacy was reported. 
  • A drop-in service held at two clinics was well attended and demonstrated the value of outreach work. 

Project 4: Collective Advocacy

Lead organisation: Mental Health Advocacy Project
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £141,655

NDPF funding provided for a part-time advocacy worker and one day per week of support from West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service (WLDAS) staff, and an independent evaluation. The project was referred to as 'The Voice of West Lothian' and it aimed to raise collective advocacy issues with service providers, policy makers and any other relevant organisations. An independent evaluation was ongoing at the time of the programme evaluation.

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • People using the service have a greater awareness and understanding of collective advocacy.
  • People using the service are more involved in decision making processes that affect their lives
  • People using the service are more able to collectively advocate
  • People using the service are more aware of, and able to access, their rights and entitlements.
  • People using the service from all backgrounds and circumstances are able to access collective advocacy.
  • The views of those using the service inform local strategic commissioning, service design and delivery.
  • Increased engagement with advocacy by service providers.
  • The forum is used as a consultative body by services.
  • Barriers between adult care groups are broken down and stigma is reduced.
  • Increased stability on recovery journey.

Based on the quantitative and qualitative information presented in the monitoring reports and during the consultations some progress was evident in meeting the above outcomes. Prior to the first COVID-19 lockdown six individuals using the service regularly engaged in 'The Voice'. They met with the Manager of the West Lothian Community Mental Health and Addictions Service to inform the Local Outcome Improvement Plan and West Lothian's Alcohol and Drugs Partnership Commissioning Plan. Contact with individuals has been maintained but the group has not been able to continue to meet or connect as a result of restrictions and digital exclusion.

Key findings

  • The advocacy worker with lived experience has delivered a valued service to people in recovery from substance misuse. 
  • The service evolved during the COVID-19 lockdown to provide individual support to sustain recovery and combat social isolation, filling a gap in provision. 
  • A meeting was held between The Mental Health Advocacy Project and the Manager of the West Lothian Community Mental Health and Addictions Service to affect local plans. This highlights the role collective advocacy can play to enable policies relating to the involvement and impact of people using the service. 
  • The collective concerns raised spotlighted the practical barriers to accessing treatment such as lengthy waiting time. 'The Voice' was able to influence the ADP so that those with substance use issues can now access bus passes. 

Project 5: Midlothian and East Lothian Advocacy Project

Lead organisation: Access to Industry
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £120,000

NDPF funding provided for an advocacy worker who delivered one-to-one support on an outreach basis to people from Mid and East Lothian affected by addiction issues to strengthen recovery pathways. Group sessions on topics of value to people using the service were also delivered. However, plans for some of those using the service to undertake training as volunteer peer advocates were not progressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • Engage with 85 new people throughout the project.
  • Increased stability in recovery.
  • Barrier removal, increase in motivation, increase in skillset (knowing rights).
  • Building positive social networks and reducing isolation.

The first outcome has been exceeded with 128 individuals engaging by October 2020. Half of clients engaged in a single contact and half in multiple contacts, with 316 one-to-one sessions delivered. Based on the qualitative data presented in the monitoring reports and during the consultations the project has partially achieved the outcomes related to individuals. The worker has provided information and supported individuals which was very much aligned to the outcomes although robust evidence of improvement in these areas was limited. 

Key findings

  • The project has demonstrated a demand for advocacy service and highlighted the complex needs of some of those using the service. Advocacy was delivered in a range of areas such as benefits, debt management, housing and employment. The service also liaised with the DWP to get an extension for benefits claims. 
  • On average, the project supported each individual using the service for five hours.
  • The service continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic connecting with individuals by phone or face-to-face where possible. When lockdown restrictions allowed, the service continued to use the Esk Centre in Musselburgh offering appointments to meet with individuals.
  • Two group work sessions lasting six weeks took place before the pandemic, and one other session about budgeting has since been delivered. 
  • Although digital technology was sourced for some of those using the service, some remain digitally excluded as they are not able to engage this way.
  • The service is highly regarded among substance use services in Midlothian and East Lothian and has helped to bridge gaps in advocacy provision and support. 
  • The relative success in engaging with people in active addiction has led the service to continue to have this open approach and also emphasised the importance of the service being trauma informed. 

Project 6: National Recovery Advocacy Network

Lead organisation: Scottish Recovery Consortium
NDPF priority: Advocacy services
Total NDPF award: £174,000

NDPF funding enabled Scottish Recovery Consortium (SRC) to establish a recovery advocacy network across Scotland. Working in collaboration with REACH Advocacy, a SQA-accredited peer advocacy training and support programme was developed and delivered in Argyll & Bute (four participants) and South Ayrshire (nine participants). After COVID-19 related delays, a third cohort started in December 2020 in Angus, Perth & Kinross, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, and Moray. In addition, the project has delivered training to advocacy services on a rights-based approach so that all staff are better informed and knowledgeable about the approach and better able to support people with substance use issues.

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • A network of trained and qualified Recovery Advocates with lived experience across Scotland.
  • Structures in place to co-ordinate and support Recovery Advocates regionally and nationally.
  • Data gathered to evaluate the efficacy of National Specialised Advocacy provision.

Based on the quantitative and qualitative information presented in the monitoring reports and during the consultations the outcomes have been partially met. Delays and the challenge of delivering the training and support programme during the COVID-19 pandemic were contributory factors to further progress. 

Key findings

  • Training of peer advocates in Argyll and Bute in conjunction with Lomond and Argyll Advocacy Service (LAAS) led to the creation of three ADP-funded advocacy posts within LAAS. Feedback from the peer advocates, LAAS and the ADP was very positive and this provides a model of good practice in the development of peer-led advocacy services.
  • Although COVID-19 restrictions were challenging, the project adapted and successfully delivered online training to peer advocates and advocacy services. SRC and REACH Advocacy provided valuable support to participants.
  • The restrictions, such as temporary closure of recovery cafés, reduced the planned opportunities for participants to apply their learning to support people in recovery in practice. 
  • The project has created a sustainable package of peer advocacy training and support which can be rolled out to other areas at a relatively modest cost per participant. SRC will continue to promote the training and support.
  • The project has helped SRC build wider and stronger relationships with advocacy services and ADPs in a number of areas.

Project 7: Families as a Movement for Change

Lead organisation: Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs
NDPF priority: Family inclusive services and support
Total NDPF award: £187,500

Funding from NDFP contributed towards Families as a Movement for Change which consisted of two projects. Firstly, the Young Person's National Demonstration Project, hereafter referred to as 'Routes' in East and West Dunbartonshire was set up to support young people aged 12-26 years affected by substance use. Secondly, the Connecting Families is a national project to support family support groups. With the existing funding and additional investment NDPF funding supported 1.8 whole time equivalent Connecting Families Workers. 

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for the Routes project were:

  • Young people in East and West Dunbartonshire affected by someone else's substance use are empowered to co-produce, test and share across Scotland a programme of support based on their own experiences.
  • The confidence of young people in East and West Dunbartonshire is increased.
  • Young people in East and West Dunbartonshire develop and strengthen their connections and relationships with peers.
  • Young people have their views and experiences on substance use recognised and responded to. 

The outcomes for the Connecting Families project were:

  • New, emerging and existing peer-led family support groups across Scotland are better supported and sustained, and have increased resilience.
  • Family group members and leaders/ emerging leaders have increased knowledge, skills, capacity and confidence.
  • More families connect with peer-led family support groups for mutual support and solutions.
  • Solutions-focused and evidence-based family programmes such as CRAFT have increased reach and impact. 
  • Local, regional and national connections and networks of peer-led family support groups are developed and sustained.

Based on quantitative and qualitative information presented in the monitoring reports and during the consultations, the outcomes as stated above for both elements of the project have been partly achieved. For Routes, 171 activities and/or trips have been delivered with a consistent group of around 50 young people, which is significant considering that 28 do not regularly engage in school. Moreover, only 12 of the 50 referred in the first year have parents engaging with professional support for their addiction. For the period April to September 2020, Routes delivered a total of 449 hours of one-to-one support and 148 hours of groupwork. In the same time period Connecting Families had 639 family contacts and developed nine leaders, with a Regional Leadership Network set up. 

Key findings

  • Routes moved to online activities in response to COVID-19, supporting young people to access electronic devices and delivering classes such as Zumba and cookery, as well as bespoke wellbeing packs and food parcels.
  • Connecting Families also provided online activities such as Voices Together, which is a virtual choir. In September 2020, two-day CRAFT training was delivered with social distancing in place in South Lanarkshire.
  • The service was able to adapt and support families who are sometimes very isolated to overcome digital exclusion, mediating some of the effects of the restrictions and responding to the increased demand for support. 
  • Key features of effective coproduction were a need for stigma free zones, and the time taken to build confidence to overcome anxiety to engage in groups.
  • Interactive activities were seen as a preferable way to for families and young people to engage rather than sitting and talking about problems. 

Project 8: South Ayrshire Kinship Family Support Service

Lead organisation: Children 1st
NDPF priority: Family inclusive services and support
Total NDPF award: £147,880

NDPF funding enabled Children 1st to deliver the Kinship Family Support Service to assist kinship carers in South Ayrshire. The funding contributed to staff costs including a Service Manager and a part-time Family Support Worker who provided Intensive Family Support and Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) which are key elements of Children 1st services. By the end of December 2020, 24 families, consisting of 76 individuals, had been referred to the service. 

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • Children and young people will remain within kinship care arrangements.
  • There will be a reduction in the use of both internal and external resources.
  • Fewer children and young people will be referred to Scottish Children's Reporter Administration for drug and alcohol related concerns.
  • Children and young people will be supported to remain in educational provision.
  • Carers will feel valued, skilled and supported.
  • Key staff will have the necessary skills to work in partnership with kinship carers through the use of Family Decision Making Forums.
  • Kinship Carers have a better understanding of the impact of trauma.

The project has engaged fewer kinship carers than envisaged at the outset. Challenges in gathering quantitative evidence limit assessment of progress towards outcomes including the overarching outcome that children and young people will remain within kinship care arrangements. Qualitative evidence shows families supported by the service had benefitted. 

Key findings

  • NDPF enabled Children 1st to address a gap in supporting kinship carers in South Ayrshire. Alcohol and drug use was reported as an underlying issue that contributed to the kinship caring arrangements, although it was not part of the eligibility criteria.
  • Very positive feedback provided by kinship carers showing that the service is filling a gap in emotional and practical support to kinship carers and the young people they care for. 
  • Positive outcomes reported for the young people being cared for, including improved emotional wellbeing, social interaction and improved engagement with education.
  • A support group - Kin Conversation Café – was attended by only two kinship carers but was reported as being beneficial, allowing them to share their experiences and provide peer support.
  • Valuable support provided to potentially vulnerable families during lockdown, including food parcels, activities, and IT equipment. Socially distanced support also provided alongside telephone and online support. Support included access to Children 1st money advisor.
  • Challenges engaging statutory services resulted in lower than anticipated numbers using the service. Workload, awareness of the service, and organisational culture were suggested as the main barriers. A six month vacancy with the Family Support Worker post also limited the service's capacity and impact. These challenges limited the gathering and reporting of quantitative information on the service's impact on statutory services.

Project 9: Recovery Peer Partnership Alcohol and Drugs Action

Lead organisation: Alcohol and Drugs Action
NDPF priority: Start-up investment
Total NDPF award: £130,200

This was a partnership between the local Recovery Community and commissioned Recovery Support Services in Aberdeen City. NDPF funding was to provide for a Project Co-ordinator, co-creation of a recovery coaching programme for family members, development of the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Training (DART) and to provide flexibility among staff and all training costs. The outcome was to develop a shared recovery peer pathway to increase accredited learning and volunteer opportunities for families and those with direct lived experience of substance problems. The service also set out to develop Peer 'Outreach' roles as the pinnacle of volunteering to reach and support people who may potentially benefit from the service but who were not accessing support. 

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • Recruitment (Staff) Supervision & Mentoring Roles.
  • Peer Volunteer Roles (Scope).
  • Increase in Volunteers for all activities within the Development Pathway.
  • Aberdeen in Recovery activities.
  • Ongoing Development & Activity.

Based on the limited quantitative and qualitative information presented in the monitoring reports submitted and evidence from the consultations the project's outcomes have been partially achieved. It has developed the shared recovery and volunteer pathway and increased capacity for supervision and their reach to 'at risk' individuals. From April until the end of November 2020, the service reported delivering 846 hours related to peer-led groups and 151 hours of training. Twenty-five Peer Volunteers joined the pathway and 23 achieved Bronze status. A radio show was also produced in HMP Grampian and a tri-annual magazine. The service has not been able to recruit volunteers as envisaged because of the COVID-19 restrictions. 

Key findings

  • In response to COVID restrictions, the service moved to a befriending phone service, delivering online recovery sessions, training, programs, SRC's Recovery College, and also bringing groups together. 
  • The experience highlighted the importance of digital inclusion and the service is now working towards having a hybrid model of working involving online as well as face-to-face support. 
  • The service has expanded opportunities for outreach, connecting with the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to increase levels of engagement and reduce missed appointments.
  • Although the pathways were focused on recovery, the service have found that people want to move on quickly to other tangible outcomes, such as paid employment and the 'Pathway' needs to be developed to consider this. There is one volunteer in employment, one who has set up their own business and two created their own service for rough sleepers.
  • COVID-19 restrictions impacted on the project's ability to bring people together as envisaged at the outset.

Project 10: River Garden Auchincruive

Lead organisation: Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland
NDPF priority: Start-up investment
Total NDPF award: £125,000

Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland (IFDAS) was awarded NDPF funding towards the creation of a new Chief Executive Officer post. IFDAS' mission is to establish a residential project in Scotland to help people in the early stages of recovery from alcohol and drug problems, who have a history of frequent relapse, to access long-term recovery. Based on a 48 acre site in South Ayrshire, River Garden Auchincruive (RGA), provides accommodation, peer support, training and skills development, work experience and paid employment for up to 40 residents who live on-site for up to three years while they recover. The NDPF-funded CEO post was initially filled in April 2019 although the postholder left within two months. The post was refilled in October 2019 before this postholder left in December 2020. 

Progress against outcomes

The outcomes for this project were:

  • The RGA demonstration project will be well known across Scotland.
  • Social enterprise income will grow, enabling the Chief Executive post to be mainstreamed beyond this grant funding. 
  • RGA's activities will contribute to a reduction of stigma around people in recovery in the local area and beyond.

Progress has been made towards the outcomes. By December 2020, RGA had eight residents and had received referrals and interest from potential residents across Scotland. There was also widespread interest in the project from service commissioners and providers. Five social enterprises have been established - River Garden Wood, Café, Produce, Merch, and Events - with varying incomes, some affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Income was insufficient to mainstream the CEO position and additional external funding was being sought. There was limited evidence regarding a reduction in stigma in the local area and beyond; COVID-19 restrictions limited interaction although a pop-up café and the Little Acorns forest school helped attract visitors. 

Key findings

  • The CEO post provided a valuable lead for strategic and operational issues which aided organisational development that were previously undertaken on a voluntary basis by Trustees. This included developing a strategic approach to long-term residential recovery - the River Garden Way - in collaboration with residents, staff and Trustees.
  • However, the CEO was unable to fully address all aspects of the role such as implementing the strategic approach due to governance issues including clarity around roles and responsibilities, trust, and communication.
  • The social enterprises are impressive and innovative. They have the potential to generate surpluses to contribute towards running costs although the size of the contribution is difficult to forecast.
  • The concept of a long term residential support community for people in recovery in Scotland has been tested and, at this stage, appears to be beneficial.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable bearing on the implementation and impact of the ten NDPF projects. As described in the above summaries, all ten projects were affected in some way, and in most cases, quite considerably. A very direct effect was felt among those projects delivering face-to-face support to people in recovery or their families. It was admirable, however, how quickly and effectively the projects adjusted their services to continue to support people using these services by turning to telephone and online support, or online training, where relevant. The services played an important role providing additional support to people affected by alcohol and drug problems during lockdown. This included practical and emotional support to adapt to the circumstances which were particularly challenging for some of those affected by alcohol and drug problems.

Projects reported that the experience of successfully delivering online services will inform the design and delivery of services in the future. Projects also highlighted the challenge faced by some of those using their services in accessing online support and the potential impact this may have had on their recovery, and in some cases, on mental health and wellbeing.

Fund management

The grant claims and payments process was well managed by Scottish Government. Grant recipients reported no issues and appreciated this aspect of fund management.

The submission of quarterly monitoring reports by the funded organisations was mixed, as reported in Section 1. Four of the ten projects did not submit the full complement of monitoring reports and the Scottish Government could have done more to contact projects regarding the missing monitoring reports. The missing monitoring reports contributed to the limited information available for this evaluation.

The funded organisations reported they tended not to receive an acknowledgement or feedback on the contents of the monitoring reports they submitted. The majority of organisations stated they would have welcomed feedback from the Scottish Government as it would have demonstrated interest in their project.

The programme evaluation commissioned by the Scottish Government in September 2019, included input, in an advisory capacity, to support grant recipients with the quality of self-monitoring and evaluation. The support was provided by the programme evaluators, Iconic Consulting. As reported in Section 1, the consultants provided each project with feedback on their proposed approach to monitoring and evaluation, with recommendations to strengthen the approach where necessary; the feedback was informed by a desk-based review of their application form and supporting documents and a meeting to discuss their approach in detail. The projects were made aware that ad-hoc support on monitoring and evaluation was available throughout the delivery phase, although none of the projects asked for any assistance. Generally, the projects gathered comprehensive information on service delivery and qualitative feedback from people using these services and from partner agencies. However, robust evidence on impact was more limited in most cases. 

At the outset of the programme, the Scottish Government stated that networking events would be held to share learning among the projects. The guidance stated that 'successful projects will be required to participate in a forthcoming national working group to support the development of advocacy services across the country. This will involve attendance at quarterly meetings and participation in key activities which will result in the development of national good practice around the delivery of advocacy services for this group of people and their family members'. The Guidance included a similar statement for family inclusive services and support. A number of the funded projects reported their interest in such sessions during our initial discussions with them, particularly the advocacy projects that saw this as an opportunity to network and share merging benefits and challenges. No sessions were held and projects expressed their disappointment at this. Staff turnover among the Scottish Government's Alcohol and Drugs Team and the COVID-19 pandemic were contributory factors to this and the limited contact regarding monitoring reports.



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