A shared Mission

By Becky Tyler, Research Assistant

Connections in Mind Foundation is continuing to partner with schools and youth clubs to deliver executive function interventions but with a much stronger research focus. Our mission has always been the same: to ensure that young people who face multiple disadvantages are supported in developing their executive function skills. That’s why we have partnered with a youth club charity Regenerate on their Get Working programme which supports young people who want to turn their life around by developing their employment skills and work experience.

Regenerate was born out of the desire to make positive change for young people and the elderly as well as serving the local community in the Roehampton area. Their Get Working programme initially included The Feel Good Bakery in which the young people delivered freshly made Feel Good Sandwiches to local businesses. Since the COVID-19 pandemic they have launched two Feel Good coffee carts with the aim of expanding this part of the enterprise so that they can provide support for every young person in the borough who is not in education, employment or training. 

We know from research that most daily tasks, including those in the workplace, require the employment of executive functions (Diamond, 2013). Challenges with executive functions in the workplace often include difficulties remembering multi-step instructions (working memory), thinking before acting or speaking (response inhibition) and understanding different points of view (cognitive flexibility). It is these challenges that can be detrimental to whether a young person stays in employment or education, a view that is shared by Clare Smith (Service Lead) and Bella James at Regenerate. 

Since the Regenerate staff attended our Level 1 Executive Function Skills Coach Training in January 2021, together we have co-developed a research project and executive function coaching intervention that can coexist alongside the Get Working programme. This research project will evaluate the effectiveness of 1:1 executive function coaching in improving executive function skill development and metacognition as well as the young people’s self-confidence, teamwork skills and activities in employment, education and training opportunities. The research project includes a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods including multiple psychometric measures, goal-attainment scaling and semi-structured interviews to provide us with a rich and in depth account of the impact of the intervention. 

The staff are also receiving 1:1 and group supervision sessions with Michael Duah which has already been successful in creating a space for staff to discuss challenges and set personal and professional goals. 

In addition to the research project, Bella James has since developed a new 13-week programme, The Bridge. One of the aims of The Bridge is to increase young people’s awareness of their own executive function challenges and strengths whilst working through a series of workshops. These workshops will support the young people in developing a further understanding of their values and motivators as well as learn about other skills that are essential for successful employment. This programme will become a key part of the Get Working programme and one that we have also integrated into the research project so that we can measure the full impact of the incredible work that Regenerate are doing.

We will continue to grow our partnership with Regenerate by providing on-going support and resources in addition to offering expertise provided by the Connections in Mind Foundation team. We really value the work that Regenerate do and are hopeful that we can develop further research projects on other programmes so that we can continue to provide executive function support for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

If you are a youth club, school or other organisation interested in working with Connections in Mind Foundation please email belinda@cimfoundation.org.uk. We would love to find out more about how we can support you and the young people you work with.