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Case Study

Using Evaluation to Amplify the Voices (not just numbers)

In evaluations, often it is numbers that are seen as the most convincing information that can demonstrate whether something works or doesn’t, but there are limitations.

Too often, we hear organisations saying ‘our decisions are informed by data’ or ‘we are a data-driven organisation’. It is fair to assume that the emphasis might be on quantitative data. However, our recent experience of evaluating Soft Touch Art’s Project Enable reminded us about the value of stories over numbers. Those ‘data-driven decisions’ may well be informed by high value stories.

When our consultancy team conducts evaluation, we always explore a balance of both qualitative and quantitative methods to look at the success of a programme. However, for Soft Touch Arts’ interim stage evaluation, we found it beneficial to tip the balance towards qualitative data capture. The conversations with the young people, the project stakeholders and the community partners were rich in data. Together with Soft Touch Arts we were eager that this deeper dive into the individual stories would breathe life and authenticity into this evaluation and show the true value of Project Enable and what it had achieved so far.

It was a privilege to have these conversations with the people involved in the project. These were genuine, authentic and heartfelt conversations that would be lost in a question starting ‘rate your experience 1 to 5…’. These stories shared the intricacies of how the project was working, its achievements and the challenges. The conversations showed the ambition and determination to continue this work for young people in New Parks. Moreover, the data highlighted the passion, commitment and humanity that often goes unsung in these grassroots community projects.

Numbers are still valuable, but there are limitations. We should all challenge ourselves to make sure we uncover stories and understand the lived experiences of those taking part in such programmes as part of any organisational or project decision-making.

As evaluators, our team will always assess this balance of numbers and stories in the approach.  It is our commitment to amplify brave voices, and ultimately, pave the way for more meaningful and impactful creative interventions.

Our thanks to Soft Touch Arts and its delivery partners for the opportunity to support them with this interim evaluation and for allowing us to share our findings.


“It was a pleasure to work with Art Reach. They were knowledgeable, professional and personable. And most importantly, they knew how to communicate with our young people.”

Sally Norman, Co-Founder – Soft Touch Arts


A young person is drilling a part onto a sculpture made from reclaimed materials.

Image: Soft Touch Arts

This image shows a banner full of coloured hearts that has been attached to a transit van.

Image: Soft Touch Arts

A group of young people are in a rehearsal space which has a big blue wall. They are all facing away from camera and striking a power pose.

Image: Soft Touch Arts

A group of young people are sitting on a bench. Behind them is a mural with a pretty tress and a lovely sunset.

Image: Soft Touch Arts

A group of young people are standing in front of a white balloon archway in a room with a blue carpet.

Image: Soft Touch Arts