Evaluation of the PDU

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Our delivery and impact

Running since autumn 2017, the Practice Development Unit (PDU) has hosted nearly 80 learning events and almost as many meetings of seven different Communities of Practice. We also run an online resource hub, which is home to a wide range of external good practice tools and information, and to our own e-learning suite, comprising 18 modules that explore multiple disadvantage, Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) and Trauma Informed Care (TIC).

Through these activities, we have reached over 2,000 individuals from 360 different organisations working across the voluntary sector and statutory services, as well as a small number of interested people in the academic and private sectors. Most of our audience is based in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, though there is growing interest and collaboration with colleagues from across the United Kingdom, who enrich group discussions with good practice examples from their respective areas.

Infographic about audience and activities
From data collected in early February 2022


To understand more about what difference the PDU is making to the local workforce and system, we commissioned two independent evaluations of the project. The first was completed in the second year of the project (February 2019) and aimed to uncover initial insights in terms of the project’s impacts and reach. The second was completed in 2021 and aimed to provide us with more in-depth insights, as well as uncover opportunities for further development.

You can read more and download the two reports below.

PDU Evaluation – November 2021

In autumn 2021, we contracted Birmingham Voluntary Action Service and Ideas to Impact to complete a second independent evaluation of the PDU. We wanted to learn more about our impacts on the working practices and relationships of the local workforce, as well as understand opportunities for improvement, and areas where we might be able to do more to influence lasting change to the system supporting people who experience multiple disadvantage.

The result was an in-depth study. It uncovered invaluable insights around where our learning community believes we are making the most difference and what opportunities we might explore in the future to make even more of an impact.

Here are some of the things PDU participants and supporters had to say:

They value the mix of organisations involved in the learning experience, and the commitment and skills of the people involved.

They find our involvement of lived experience impactful, both through modelling co-production and championing the voice of experts by experience.

They believe the PDU has brought about changes to the local workforce, by improving awareness and understanding of multiple disadvantage and areas of good practice, increasing workers' confidence in their roles and promoting opportunities for self-reflection in a safe environment.

But there is still room for improvement. And we are using what we’ve learnt from this evaluation to understand how we can use our tools and resources most effectively to support and influence change in organisational cultures and the wider system, with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for anyone experiencing multiple disadvantage in Nottingham.

Read the full 2021 evaluation report


PDU Evaluation – February 2019

The first independent evaluation of the PDU was completed by Practical Participation throughout the second year of the project. At this point, we wanted to understand how the PDU’s activities were influencing the local workforce and the extent to which learning was being disseminated to improve practice.

During this period, the PDU’s main focus was on delivering learning events and communities of practice. Engagement with the online resource hub was still relatively low.

This evaluation found that the PDU was working well towards its aims of improving knowledge and skills, facilitating the sharing of good practice and expertise and promoting collaboration across sectors. It also found some indication of changes in practice. And highlighted that these impacts go beyond those who engage directly with the PDU, as participants commit to disseminate their learning to those with whom they work.

The insights from this evaluation also emphasised some areas of opportunity, particularly around evidencing impact in terms of innovation and improved outcomes for service users, as well as improving engagement and buy-in from senior managers for more strategic change to support and encourage practice development.

Read the full 2019 evaluation report


We want to hear from you!

We love to hear from our participants and supporters to inform our own learning journey. Do get in touch with any questions, comments, or just to find out more. Our inbox is always open: pdu@nottinghamcvs.co.uk.