Creative Optimistic Visions - a Big Venture Challenge case study

Posted on November 13, 2017

James Rowntree

Creative Optimistic Visions (COV) is an award-winning Protective Behaviours Process practice that aims to positively influence the life choices of young people who are at risk of victimisation and abuse, and support the professionals, schools and organisations that work with them.

The Protective Behaviours Process is a recognised, effective practice to educate and enable individuals to realise their right to feel safe and confident enough to talk with someone about anything, even if it is awful or small.

Established in 2014, COV is the only endorsed Protective Behaviours Process practitioner and training provider in Coventry and Warwickshire. The team offer award winning programmes and services, including Urban Arts, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Confident Me! and a one to one mentoring service.

Big Venture Challenge

Stacey-Jade Mason, who founded COV, is keen to grow the social enterprise and promote the use of the Protective Behaviours Process more widely across the UK. 

As someone with personal experience of having to deal with different agencies growing up, my aim is to inspire learning – wherever I can – that enables vulnerable young people to make informed choices and get the support they need before a point of crisis.

Stacey-Jade Mason, COV founder

In 2016, Stacey applied successfully to UnLtd’s Big Ventures Challenge (BVC) accelerator programme to help her access the investment and capabilities she needs to realise her ambition to grow the business.

From 2013-2016, BVC supported 120 social ventures – with business support, useful network connections and match funding – to help them raise investment and deliver social impact at scale.

Within the programme, The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) worked with BVC participants to build and strengthen their organisation’s evaluation approach, in order to maintain and increase their impact.

Our support comprised three main phases: firstly, assessing each venture’s current evidence of impact and evaluation capability, and identifying recommendations for improvements; secondly, helping ventures to develop their monitoring and evaluation capacity and generate an evaluation plan; and, thirdly, to advise ventures on how to implement and sustain their monitoring and evaluation practices long term.

The evaluation challenge

As part of their work, COV had been collecting feedback from their clients. But the team didn’t have the expert knowledge, time or guidance in-house to assess or show their impact in a more systematic way.

Working with TSIP

As a result, Stacey admits that, at first, she found some of the early training workshops that TSIP ran on the fundamentals of evidence and evaluation hard to follow. But, with the dedicated one-to-one support from a TSIP consultant, Stacey could work her way through these new concepts and develop the tools – such as a Theory of Change and Evaluation Framework – she needed to measure her business’ impact more effectively.

We started by mapping out what outcomes I wanted to achieve through the business, and TSIP really encouraged me to look at this in a structured way, narrowing my focus to what was most important.

Stacey-Jade Mason, COV founder

For Stacey, this marked an important step both professionally and personally.

I cannot speak highly enough about the support that I received. The help she [the TSIP consultant] gave me was invaluable. The consultant took me through what I needed to do step by step in a clear, practical way that really helped to boost my confidence

Stacey-Jade Mason, COV founder

This work was especially important for a small organisation like COV – which had been collecting a huge amount of information from their clients through their feedback surveys, not all of which was essential. With TSIP’s advice and support, COV used their Theory of Change as a guide to help them develop a new, more streamlined evaluation approach.

The work to produce my Theory of Change helped me to assess the existing feedback surveys we had. Previously, it felt like we’d been going the long way around getting the information we needed.

Now, I have a framework that can help me identify measures to use across our target outcomes. It’s saved us a huge amount of time.

Stacey-Jade Mason, COV founder

Looking Forward:

Increasingly, COV are using their Theory of Change for more than just monitoring and evaluation.

Every time, I meet a new client I show them our Theory of Change. It’s a great visual representation of what COV does. It helps to boost their understanding and strengthen their confidence in my business.

Most recently, it has helped the team to secure new funding and work, including a four-year contract with the Local Authority to be an alternative education provider. The Theory of Change also helped us secure funding from the local Police and Crime Commissioner and Children’s Safeguarding Board to increase our capacity for our one-to-one mentoring service with children and young people.

Looking back, since the start of the Big Venture Challenge and working with TSIP, I’m really pleased with how far I’ve come. I know that the evaluation work I’m doing will only help me to strengthen the outcomes that COV can achieve, empowering more young people to find their voice and reach their potential.

Stacey-Jade Mason, COV founder