Weave Evaluation: Stories of Lived Experience
In 2015, Weave invited ARTD Consultants to contribute to the Stories of Lived Experience project. ARTD worked with Weave and Aboriginal community organisations to develop a qualitative evaluation involving interviews with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal clients, community and staff to understand what is most useful about how Weave works; the difference that Weave makes for clients and the community; and how Weave and the sector can improve.
Weave provides a community-based model of support: its understanding of the community is trauma-informed, and its positive reputation among individuals and families encourages early interventions.
§ Weave grew out of its local community and these roots define Weave’s ethos today.
§ The continuity of Weave and key staff has built trust and sustained intergenerational connections.
§ The service range creates holistic supports for clients and families at all life stages.
Client-centered, therapeutic relationships are at the core of what Weave does: quality staff who care about their work are supported by the organisation to use a range of therapeutic approaches, with a strong focus on narrative therapy principles, to draw on clients’ strengths and empower them to make changes in their lives that are meaningful for them.
§ Relationships are allowed to grow over time, forming a secure therapeutic base.
§ The stories of clients are valued: clients have a voice and mutual respect sustains relationships.
§ Staff are persistent and committed, creating shared hope and opportunities.
Weave’s work has an impact for clients and communities: clients benefit across a range of developmental domains, and many leave Weave with greater independence, and some as leaders. Clients develop better connections to family and community, and community capacity is built.
As Weave grows and its operating environment changes, there are some issues that Weave needs to monitor and address:
§ Growing sustainably while keeping Weave’s ethos at the core.
§ Continuing to support staff effectively, as their work is intense and challenging.
§ Continuing to improve the collection and use of data to monitor and measure impacts.
§ An ongoing focus on sector and community advocacy.
Lessons from Weave clients, community and staff are relevant for the community services sector broadly, and to services supporting people with their mental health—especially services that work with Aboriginal people and communities.
Embed and engage community expertise: belong to the community in which you operate.
Empower individuals with respect, compassion and choice: acknowledge and support the time, resources and commitment that this takes.
Retaining quality staff matters, as do the qualities of staff within a supportive workplace culture.
Forge community and corporate partnerships to build the range, quality and sustainability of supports.
There is a serious role for fun and humour: celebrate successes and share hope.