6. Values and principles
The Fair Start Scotland service is built upon the Scottish Government's key values for public services:
- Dignity and respect
- Fairness and equality
- Continuous improvement
Participants from the telephone survey were asked whether they knew that FSS was a voluntary service, and 95% of the year 2 respondents said that they did. However, this awareness was significantly lower among minority ethnic participants from the year 2 cohort compared to those of white ethnicity (97%, compared to 80% respectively).
Participants from the case study areas enjoyed "…not feeling pressured" by the service due to its voluntary nature, and felt this approach helped them to engage with the support on offer more willingly and effectively. One, for example, said that FSS offered "a more relaxed environment" in which to look for work because it was voluntary and they found this more effective than programmes where attendance is mandatory.
Key workers agreed that this is a positive aspect of the service, noting that, because participants decide whether they want to take part, it attracts those who do "genuinely want the help" and this helps participants to achieve better outcomes. Another key worker noted that FSS "has a different feel to it" compared to other programmes: "it's not about having to do things, it's about [participants] wanting to do it".
Participants from year 2 who took part in the telephone survey were generally very positive about how the support they received aligned with values of FSS. While 9 out of 10 (91%) agreed they felt they were treated with dignity and respect, 8 out of 10 also agreed that the support took account of their individual needs and circumstances (80%), they felt they had choices about the support they received (81%), they felt the service offered support to improve their general quality of life and wellbeing (81%), and they felt they were in control of their progress (80%).
Source: D13: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about the support you have received. Base: All 2019 cohort (607)
Those who were in work at the time of the survey were more likely to agree with the following statements compared with those not in work:
- I feel the service offered support to improve my general quality of life and wellbeing: 87%, compared to 77%
- I feel the support took account of my individual needs and circumstances: 88%, compared to 76%
- I felt I was in control of my progress on the service: 86%, compared to 78%
Women were more likely than men to agree that the service offered support to improve general quality of life and wellbeing (86%, compared to 78%), and white participants were more likely than minority ethnic participants to agree that they had choices about the types of support they received and could set their own goals (82%, compared to 71%).
Similar to the case study findings in year 1, participants described the approach of FSS key workers as caring, respectful, kind and supportive. This is consistent with FSS's principles of dignity and respect and, across all localities, that the evaluation has covered to date, interviewees reported that the key workers were friendly, made the effort to get to know them and understand their needs, and genuinely cared about achieving the best outcome for them. Comments from participants include the following:
"Really helpful. It was good to know that there was someone who could back me up and was there to fight my corner."
"[My key worker is] sound. I can always have a chat and a bit of banter with him. He's checked in with me these past few months and kept in contact."
"They are very kind and phoned regularly to check I was doing ok and see if I needed anything. The staff are easy to talk to and very friendly."
"[The key worker] would listen and let me rant and rave. I never got a negative word out of him at all. If he hadn't been so positive, I wouldn't have found a job, wouldn't have been in the right place to find work."
What worked well?
The vast majority of participants knew that FSS was voluntary. Consistent with the findings from year 1, the majority of participants felt the support they received aligned with the values of FSS.
This was especially notable around the treatment they received from key workers.
A notable proportion of participants also felt that FSS providers were taking account of their individual needs, that they as participants had choice and were in control, and that FSS improved their quality of life and wellbeing.
What could be improved?
While the majority of participants were aware of the voluntary nature of FSS it was clear that this awareness can vary. Most notably individuals from an ethnic minority background were much less likely to be aware of the voluntary nature of the programme compared to others.
Similarly there was a discrepancy between the participants' views on whether they had choices with regards to types of support - with women being more likely than men to agree, and on goal setting - with white participants more likely to agree they could set their own goals that minority ethnic participants.
These findings may indicate the need for further work with regards to effective communication.
What are we doing?
Scottish Government continue to implement initiatives to engage with harder to reach groups to aid their understanding of the principles of FSS and the support it offers to aid their journey into work.
In 2019, a pilot in partnership with JCP commenced in Glasgow aimed at providing FSS support to a cohort of minority ethnic women. The take up and participation of this group has proven to have worked well and we continue to monitor how participants are progressing within their employability journey. Work continues for launching a similar pilot in the Edinburgh area.
Other pilots, targeting different groups of participants (for example those with convictions; care leavers), have also been identified and discussions have taken place with JCP to take these forward in the future.