Impact story: Using organic methods to collect information

Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation (MEWSo) is a small organisation in London that has been running for over 10 years. It receives funding from Trust for London, Comic Relief and the National Lottery Community Fund. Its aim is ‘to defend and protect women from violence both at home and in the wider community.’ Its seven staff and 18 volunteers provide holistic support to women and girls of North African, South Asian and Middle Eastern heritage. Services include giving advice, training in rights, and health and wellbeing workshops. MEWSo also runs campaigns, including the Polygamy Matters campaign, to improve the lives of women caught in polygamous relationships.

‘We were among the first women groups to convert our activities to virtual by mid-March.’

MEWSo staff gather information in various ways, with staff using the data to make changes to what they offer. Here are some examples:

  • WhatsApp groups and phone calls have been used to keep in touch, to check out how people are, respond to questions and find out about needs as they have emerged during the pandemic. For example, it was becoming evident that ‘fake news’ was circulating concerning Covid-19 precautions and regulations. This was causing upset, but MEWSo was able to address the issue and correct misperceptions, and also to help people get ready for mask-wearing and for track and trace procedures.
  • ‘Free talk’ at the end of sessions has enabled staff to hear about fears and worries. This was especially useful just before the start of lockdown as it enabled MEWSo to prepare women for what was to come.
  • Feedback has been gathered through the reactions buttons on Zoom, for example, using the smiley face to indicate satisfaction with online sessions. MEWSo has also used online feedback forms to gather more formal feedback, with staff using the information quickly. For example, music for a Zumba class was changed as a result of feedback. All the feedback forms are kept in one place and referred to in team meeting discussions.
  • MEWSo has its own YouTube channel which they use to communicate messages and to report on activities and services delivered and the difference the work has made.

Going forward, the key challenge for MEWSo relating to collecting, analysing and using data is to make sure that their IT is up to date and that both staff and volunteers have the technical skills needed.

If you are thinking of doing something similar we suggest you:

  1. Records notes, feedback or casual conversations. See Evaluation Support Scotland’s guidance on capturing casual moments.
  2. Create observation sheets to observe interactions between people or record change in behaviour or attitudes. See Evaluation Support Scotland’s quick guidance and template for recording observations.
  3. Offer participatory or more visual tools such as photographs, videos, body maps, comments wall or anonymous virtual versions using google documents etc. See Evaluation Support Scotland’s guidance and NCVO Knowhow’s participatory methods for measuring impact. 

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