The 8th March was International Women’s Day and gives us the opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements across the world. There are many women involved with Genesis Trust, whether as staff, volunteers or clients, and all are amazing. On this occasion we would like to highlight for you the contribution of Ivana Bensted.

Ivana is part of the Lifeline team supporting visitors to the Gateway Centre. She journeys with people as they tackle their problems together. Many have complex challenges and need long-term support. Ivana sticks with them from dealing with the immediate crisis through to its resolution.

One man she has been helping over the last year wrote to thank her saying, When I went to Genesis, I received a lot of support and kindness from everyone at the Gateway Centre, it truly was my Lifeline. It made me feel welcome and not judged. With this help and support, I started believing in myself. It led me to get funding for my solar panels [he lives on a boat], and I managed to get a new job. My life has turned around completely. I believe that I would not have been able to bounce back without the Genesis’s support.”

Like many of the Genesis staff, Ivana wears several hats and on this International Women’s Day we want to shine a light on the work she does behind the scenes.  As a former management consultant, she has the talent and skills for organisation and unknotting problems, and so she has been developing our database system (called Salesforce) and to make it a good fit for Genesis Trust. She has had help from two fantastic volunteers, Simon Brand and Robin Henderson, to whom we say a big thank you as well!

Together they have tailored the system so that it is straightforward for busy frontline staff to use. It also provides all the data and reporting options needed by our fundraising and administration teams. We also measure mental wellbeing outcomes through processes that have been developed by Sue Fourie, our Life Skills Manager. With these systems, together with trained staff, we now have the tools and ability to begin measuring our impact over time.

It is essential for charities to demonstrate their impact to show supporters, funders and beneficiaries what they are achieving and how well the funding is being used. If the charity has a mission to change peoples’ lives how is that really happening and what is the evidence? If not, how can the charity adapt and improve?

For Genesis Trust it is fairly straightforward to record things like hours of one to one support, numbers of people helped, food parcels and pairs of sock given, courses attended and so forth. It is much harder to measure and then assess our impact. For example, have we been able to help people transform their lives?

We have many wonderful yet anecdotal stories that illustrate how people have changed but our aim is to be able to measure this with increasing confidence from now on.