Our impact report is out!

I’m proud to have been in post as the new Director of IARS for over six months now, and particularly pleased to put my name to the new Impact Report for 2019-20. It was the values and the way they impact individuals and communities that first drew me to IARS, and I am very proud of the way that  these values are lived out through our commitment to support local, community-led solutions through evidence-based research; allowing the voices of those communities to drive our research; whether they are young people, women, migrants, teachers, parents, young carers, victims of crime, entrepreneurs or simply those who feel that their voices are not being heard.

Sometimes it is hard to quantify the impact that IARS has, especially given that we work with so many diverse groups and that our research has both granular, micro applications in very specific fields such as young carers being trained as entrepreneurs, or capturing the sights, sounds and history of the Latin Village in Seven Sisters; and macro policy-level contributions, such as the role of positivity and the Good Lives Model with individuals at risk of violent youth radicalisation.

There are three things though that stand out to me as the basic tenets that help us hold true to our basic principles, and I hope you see them weaving their way through this impact report in various ways.

Firstly, we are user-led in all that we do – ensuring that young people, women and other groups with whom we work are engaged in the process – not just as a tick box exercise but as stakeholders in what research we carry out, how we carry it out, and the quality of what we deliver.

Secondly, we are evidence-based. We don’t go into our work with pre-conceptions, or if we do we make sure to sense check them along the way via our user-groups. We are totally independent and are not afraid to share our conclusions, however unpopular we may be! This is what helps us to be a trusted evaluation partner for organisations wishing to receive an independent assessment of their programmes.

Thirdly, we are proudly outward looking and international. At a time when our world outlook feels likes it’s getting smaller, IARS is proud to work with partners from Europe and further afield, to work with the European Solidarity Campaign and Eurodesk to create volunteering opportunities across borders and to encourage young people to think about what we have in common rather than what divides us.

2020 has of course been overshadowed by the spectre of coronavirus, and six months down the line we still don’t know how far reaching and seismic the effects will be. What is clear, however, is that marginalised and disadvantaged communities are those that are bearing the brunt of the crisis. BAME communities are disproportionately affected health-wise, and research suggests that young people are more likely to have lost their jobs than other groups. This fills me with renewed energy to lead IARS into the new year with a renewed commitment to forging a fairer, safer and more inclusive society – by listening to the voices of affected communities to drive our research; whether they are young people, women, migrants, teachers, parents, young carers, victims of crime, entrepreneurs or those who we are yet to encounter.

You can read the report Impact_report_2020_

Claire Bonham
Executive Director