Written by Professor Sally Holland 

CASCADE is leading a large and complex evaluation of an exciting pilot in Wales. This pilot involves over 600 care leavers aged 18 in Wales. They are being paid a basic income that is the equivalent to the living wage for two years between the ages of 18 and 20. We are measuring and observing the effect of this.  

We have a brilliant group of care-experienced young people who are advising on the project. Most are a little too old to receive the money themselves, but still young enough to remember what it’s like to be an 18-year-old care leaver. 

We have met seven times in the last 18 months and the group has provided feedback and advice that has led to us changing the project in several ways. Here are some examples: 

Changing the questions we ask 

The group looked at a range of different survey questions and chose ones that they thought would be understandable and important to young people. They gave us confidence to ask some questions that we were unsure about related to mental health, saying they were important and relevant. 

The group have also come up with questions to ask young people and Personal Advisors in interviews and focus groups. 

Changing the way we ask questions 

The group helped to try out a focus group where we offered a craft activity to help people relax and held a group discussion. The group members had mixed opinions about whether the craft helped or not and gave really helpful advice about structuring the session better to make it easier to understand and take part. 

We also tried out a game in another session which the group gave a ‘thumbs down’ to, finding it too young and not a helpful way to get people to share their views. Telling us NOT to do something is as helpful as telling us what to do! 

Advising on reporting 

In our last session, group members advised us on how to report some potentially sensitive findings, and how to make summary reports more accessible for young people. 

What next? 

We’re looking forward to continuing to involve the group in helping us interpret and report our findings, and the group will run until 2026! 

Thanks so much to all of those involved, especially members who travel a long way to attend meetings or give up their time on a Saturday after a long week in work, college or apprenticeships. 

Sally Holland, CASCADE.