From 2014 – 2018, Gingerbread delivered Talent Match London to young single parents across 9 (revised to 7) boroughs in the capital. This report summarises the evaluation we conducted at the end of the project, to understand what was and wasn’t successful with the delivery, and to capture wider learning about working with young single parents, specifically on employability programmes. We conducted 12 interviews for this project, with participants, and internal and external professionals with experience working with young single parents.
Learning for employability programmes working with young single parents
We have developed the Young Single Parents’ Journey of Change, a recommended design template for future employability programmes working with young single parents. This builds on the Talent Match Journey of Change but we have added stages to help young parents stabilise their lives, and gain additional educational and work experience, and have adapted existing stages to better recruit and serve this group. The journey for young single parents is longer and highly likely to be subject to set-backs. Through the evaluation findings we question whether it is feasible to deliver the full journey at once. For many young single parents, the journey would be better and more successfully completed in stages. For example, the first stage could be reaching ‘skill-up’, identifying short and long-term goals and gaining education and work experience, and the remaining steps could be completed when the parent has more stability or their child is older. Moreover, career aspirations might differ in the short and long term. Our evaluation suggests that in the short term, many young single parents want a job to earn some extra money and gain some work experience, and will look at moving into a more ‘skilled’ and sustainable career as their children get older.
Learning for Gingerbread
For Gingerbread, this evaluation had provided learning to influence how we work with young single parents, who have needs that are specific and different from our main beneficiary group.
Engagement – young single parents don’t always identify as such and so research that considers messaging, channels, and routes to engagement is required to understand how we reach and engage this group in our wider offer of services.
Advice – young single parents don’t use our advice services, particularly the helpline. They often don’t identify their need for support and wouldn’t identify Gingerbread as a source of support if they don’t identify as single parents themselves. We must consider how we can create routes to this service for young single parents and how to make the service relevant and accessible to them
Campaigns and policy – the team has already successfully challenged the government on job seeking requirements for parents on universal credit with young children. Young single parents clearly face a specific set of challenges relating to their age and the age of their children, and there is further work to do in recognising and campaigning on these specific issues.
Peer support – young single parents feel excluded from parent spaces and as such our current model of peer support will not be suitable for them. Gingerbread should consider what other models of peer support might better serve this group, for example trialling digital spaces, as this is a medium that young people are comfortable with and it combats the childcare challenges.
Strategy – this evaluation supports Gingerbread’s wider strategic review to wind down the delivery of employment contracts for single parents. This will allow Gingerbread to focus resources towards delivering more sustainable programmes for single parents that support sustainable work, in work progression, and allow us reach a larger number of single parents. Gingerbread is well positioned to work in partnership with other organisations on the ‘stability’ stage of the Young Single Parent Journey of Change, and to provide advice and information about young single parent needs, to those working with them.