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February 16, 2021

Statistical offer

To some extent or other, and however much we try not to, we live and work within our own comfort zones. A while back, I stepped out of mine to meet with Scottish Government’s statistics and data analysts team, exploring how their world might connect more closely with the world of community. It took a while for us to understand each other but gradually some opportunities began to emerge. Unfortunately progress on this has stalled (temporarily) due to lockdown. In a similar vein, albeit unrelated, this offer of help dropped into my inbox. Worth a look at.  

Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician

The Analytical Exchange programme matches analysts working in Scotland with voluntary sector organisations requesting help around data, analysis, statistics and research on very short, sharp projects. These can be anywhere between an afternoon to 10 working days. Individuals or small groups of statisticians, economists or researchers then act as analytical consultants to collect and analyse data, solve problems and evaluate impact.

Since its inception in 2012, the scheme has supported projects in over 200 organisations and provided a total of around 800 days of support to voluntary sector organisations. Last year we opened up this scheme up to analysts beyond the public sector. This worked well, with people across a number of private sector organisations participating. So, I’m going to do this again – you just need to let me know about your analytical skills to make sure we match you to an appropriate opportunity.

Most placements were about how to:

  • measure, monitor and evaluate success
  • bring together evidence around a subject, or
  • manage and make sense of data you collect
  • visualise data to communicate messages clearly
  • structure a significant problem

But sometimes cover economic analysis, spatial analysis or other related challenges.

In the 2020 programme, Robyn Bailey from Scottish Government was matched to work with the Scottish Community Safety Network.

Robyn said “I signed up to take part in the 2020 Analytical Exchange hoping to develop either my qualitative analysis or SPSS skills. The Scottish Community Safety Network were looking to gather some evidence on Anti-Social Behaviour in Scotland and/or experiences of Community Safety. I video-called Hannah from the Scottish Community Safety Network to agree the scope and deadlines for each miniature project, and then used quieter periods to work on this. While conducting some rapid evidence reviews and analysing some Scottish survey data in SPSS, I used my CPD log to keep track of how much time I spent on this and record any tips and tricks I’d picked up in SPSS. I then produced two reports: one on the current picture of Anti-Social Behaviour in Scotland and another on perceptions and experiences of community safety. I also got to present these pieces of research at two webinars in November and December, giving me the chance to practice giving a presentation.”

“It was really great to work with the Scottish Community Safety Network and so interesting to learn about a new topic. I’ve gained experience of designing and carrying out a project from start to finish, as well as practiced my SPSS and presentation skills. It was also a really nice way to have breaks from looking at COVID-19 impacts last year!”

Hannah Dickson from the Scottish Community Safety Network said “Robyn has been a wonderful person to work with and her work has set us up with two pieces of analysis that explore the Scottish picture of antisocial behaviour and a give us a better understanding of different people’s experiences of community safety in Scotland. This will support the Scottish Community Safety Network to continue to make the case for community safety, push for a new dialogue on antisocial behaviour and ensure community safety is valued and integrated across relevant policy areas.”

I’m now launching the 2021 programme. I’d love to hear from you if this is something that you think your organisation could benefit from, or you are an analyst or researcher who wants to get involved. However, to ensure we get the best fit between your needs and the skills of the analysts in the scheme, to be considered you need to compete a short application. Can you send this to me by e-mail: by Friday 12th March. Matching analysts to organisations will happen soon after and then it will be up to matched analysts and organisations to arrange a mutually beneficial time to do the work.

A slight note of caution is that, based upon the level of interest last year, there may well need to be some prioritisation. Shorter pieces of work may be favoured to maximise the spread of this scheme. I look forward to reading your bids and if you have any questions beforehand, also drop me a note on the e-mail address above.

An application form for individual analysts can be accessed here and an application for voluntary organisations can be accessed here.