MEAM support: “A massive how-to guide with emotional support attached”

March 11, 2024

We recently commissioned Cordis Bright to evaluate the support we provided to the MEAM Approach network during 2022-2024. The Cordis Bright team, including a team of peer researchers, interviewed ten MEAM Approach areas and held a focus group with MEAM staff. Today, we are pleased to share the findings from this research, which we will be using to shape our support offer for future years.

Key findings

The research found that:

  • Local areas continue to benefit in multiple ways from being part of the MEAM Approach network and accessing direct support from MEAM.
  • MEAM adapted its support during 2022-24 to enable a diversification of its offer to local areas. During this period, it provided bespoke support to some MEAM Approach areas, while continuing to provide a universal offer to all network areas via grant-funding. A commercial offer is also available to all areas, including those not in the network.
  • The bespoke one-to-one support provided by MEAM Partnerships Managers is highly valued by local areas, with participants reporting that it helps them to be empowered and to maintain focus and energy on systems change, without directing their work. Such support included one-to-one engagement, facilitated workshops and events, training and workforce development, and co-production support, all tailored to local needs.
  • The universal offer available from MEAM Approach network membership was also highly regarded, with participants highlighting the value to be gained from sharing learning, accessing emotional support and the ability to draw on MEAM’s national evidence base and reputation. This has allowed areas to be inspired, motivated and reassured in their efforts to improve local services and systems for people experiencing multiple disadvantage.
  • Local areas highlighted where they felt support could be further improved, with a focus on continuing to improve peer connections, network participation and involvement. They had some suggestions for this, and the report concludes with a series of recommendations for MEAM’s consideration.

Read the full report in our publications area.

In participant’s own words:

“The system change stuff has been a real struggle, but without MEAM we wouldn’t have got on the first rung.”

“[In peer support meetings], you also see how passionate people are across the country are about doing things. Sometimes you might be dealing locally with people who are a bit jaded and what have you… and just getting together with people who are passionate about it sort of helps to keep the flames going.”

“There’s an emotional thing about being part of the network. When dealing with these kinds of issues, access to network and advocacy helps. You get practical help and support. It helps you to speak with confidence, [knowing you’re] coming from a validated space. Research and evidence backing and recommendations that come out of that – it’s a massive how-to guide with emotional support attached. It prevents burnout and isolation.”

Where next for MEAM support?

As MEAM moves into 2024/25, we will be applying what we’ve learnt from this review to refresh our support offer to the MEAM Approach network for the next stage of our work.

If you would like to know more about how MEAM network membership or our training and consultancy offers can support your work around multiple disadvantage, please visit the “working with you” area of our website or contact us.

For now, we would like to thank everyone involved in this evaluation, including the team at Cordis Bright, the experts by experience team, the local areas across the MEAM Approach network and Changing Futures programme and everyone who contributed their views and experiences or allowed their individual data to be shared.