Increasing the Impact of the What Works Network across the UK

Project status Completed

The Wales Centre for Public Policy has worked with What Works Scotland, Queen’s University Belfast, the Alliance for Useful Evidence and a range of What Works Centres to increase the impact of the What Works network across the UK, in an ESRC-funded project.

The project involved running a series of summits for policymakers and public services across the devolved nations in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. These summits, which took place between November 2018 and October 2019, focused on evidence produced by What Works Centres which addresses issues that are priorities for the devolved administrations.

The project aimed to:

  • Share knowledge and learning across What Works Centres
  • Encourage cross-jurisdictional learning and test out ways in which What Works Centres can engage effectively with devolved administrations
  • Improve access to What Works outputs by policymakers and public services in devolved administrations

Five summits were held on the following policy areas:

  • Youth Homelessness Summit, Newport (November 2018): Hosted by the Wales Centre for Public Policy, representatives from local authorities across Wales, along with youth homelessness practitioners, came together to hear from the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, What Works Wellbeing, Centre for Homelessness Impact, and Llamau on evidence related to youth homelessness prevention.
  • What Works Summit: Early years, Belfast (February 2019): The Campbell Collaboration at Queen’s University Belfast invited practitioners, academics and policy makers to hear from What Works Centres the Education Endowment Foundation, the Early Intervention Foundation, and NICE, along with local researchers from Northern Ireland, about evidence related to early years.
  • Children and young people: using research and evidence to make change happen, Glasgow (April 2019): What Works Scotland brought together policy makers and practitioners from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to discuss evidence related to place-based approaches to children’s outcomes.
  • What Works Summit: Youth mental health, Belfast (May 2019): Hosted by the Campbell Collaboration at Queen’s University Belfast, this summit involved third sector organisations, academics and policy makers, and featured presentations from What Works Wellbeing, NICE, and What Works Children’s Social Care, as well as local practitioners and researchers, on causes, prevention, and treatment for young people experiencing mental health difficulties. This blog highlights key learning from the event.
  • What Works Centres summit – Local economic performance, Cardiff (June 2019): Involving academics and policy makers from Wales, at this summit we heard from Wales Centre for Public Policy, What Works Local Economic Growth, and other researchers on evidence related to economic challenges in Wales. Follow the key moments of the day here.

A roundtable was also held in October 2019 in London, hosted by the Alliance for Useful Evidence, to share learning from this project with senior representatives from What Works Centres, devolved administrations, the ESRC and Cabinet Office. An overview of the key messages discussed at this roundtable is published on this page. An evaluation of the project as a whole will be published in early 2020.

To find out more about this project, please contact Emma Taylor-Collins, Senior Research Officer at Wales Centre for Public Policy.