SoberLink was established as a Social Enterprise so that we could be as flexible as possible and quickly and effectively adapt our services to different needs and opportunities as soon as they arise.
As an organisation that needs to act like a business and generate its own, self-sustainable income it is also incumbent on us to prove that what we do actually works.
By its very nature alcoholism, and recovery from it, has proved difficult to monitor. While actively drinking, individuals tend to isolate and shun contact with outside agencies. In recovery, many move on, move away and are hard to maintain contact with.
However, proving the effectiveness of what we do is something SoberLink is fully committed to doing, not least because there is so little robust evidence around the long-term outcomes of current statutory treatment interventions.
We don’t believe a programme’s success can be measured simply in terms of waiting times or levels of attendance at a handful of time-limited, weekly follow-up sessions.
We know better than most that short periods of sobriety are common among alcoholics. Due to the very nature of the illness it is what happens beyond initial treatment that cements recovery and is the real measuring stick.
This is why we have teamed up with the Third Sector Capacity Building Cluster at Bristol University’s Centre for Public and Market Organisation to provide short and long-term, independent, academically robust outcome evaluations of the SoberLink programme, looking at both its economic and its social value.
The Cluster, which is funded by the Cabinet Office, Economic and Social Research Council and Barrow Cadbury Trust, and co-ordinated regionally by South West Forum, offers ‘opportunities to develop partnership projects between third sector organisations and academics, focusing on economic impact. The aim of these projects is to help organisations to assess the impact and value of what they do and to use data and analysis to improve service delivery.’
We’re currently in the process of designing the monitoring and evaluation processes with the researchers, some traditional some a little more innovative, and will let you know as soon as we have some early results to report.