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How to commission a strengths-based programme

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you’ll know that we recently launched our Commissioning & Evaluation Toolkit, designed to help organisations to support their service users. In this week’s blog, we’re going to look a little bit more in depth at the toolkit, by exploring our top tips for how to plan and evaluate a programme.

Commissioning & Evaluation Toolkit

This new resource completes our trilogy of toolkits, along with the Mental Skills Training Toolkit and Delivery Guide. Its main aim is to help commissioners, service providers and policy makers to commission strengths-based programmes. This is so that services can improve outcomes for a variety of people with different support needs. The toolkit can be used to develop new programmes, or to adapt existing ones.

When you are thinking of commissioning a programme, there are 3 stages to consider:

We explored our recommendations for how to deliver a strengths-based programme, in a previous blog post. Let’s now take a closer look at the remaining stages: planning and evaluation.


Planning is a key aspect of commissioning. It allows you to get the most out of your programme. There are many aspects to consider when you’re in the planning stage and one of the most important ones is stakeholder collaboration.

Stakeholder collaboration

There is value in including key stakeholders early in the planning process, to shape the goals and delivery methods of the programme. Your key stakeholders will be the organisations and the people within them, who will be involved in delivering and receiving the programme.

There are many benefits of planning in collaboration with your stakeholders, such as:

  • Producing meaningful and relevant resources and guidance

  • Increasing the likelihood that those in the sector will engage with the programme, when they have been involved in the creative process

  • Exchanging knowledge between you and your stakeholders, i.e. sharing your expertise and learning from one another.

Through the MST4Life™ programme, we found that consultation with staff and young people informed the need for the programme to be highly interactive and fun, using activities that were meaningful to young people. For example, we learnt that our activities should provide young people with opportunities to interact and work with each other.

Once you have planned your programme, the next stage of the process is evaluation. This is a crucial stage of commissioning any strengths-based programme.


It is important to consider evaluation, to find out if the programme is working and how young people are experiencing it. For example, when we evaluate, we gain feedback to inform future improvements of the programme. It can be as simple as asking young people to fill out a feedback form. We can use both quantitative and qualitative data to inform our evaluation.

Quantitative data are facts and figures, such as whether a young person has engaged with opportunities for education, employment and training; or whether their mental health has improved throughout the programme.

Qualitative data is gathered through talking to those who have received the programme. In MST4Life™, we collect this data through informal conversations, feedback and, importantly, through the use of the diary room technique. Check out these blog posts on this, to learn more.

3 things to bear in mind when planning and evaluating

Now that we’ve explored the main stages of commissioning a strengths-based programme in more details, here are our TOP TIPS for planning and evaluation:

  • Answer the ‘5 W’s’ (WHO will you deliver the programme to? WHAT will you deliver? WHERE will you deliver the programme? WHEN will you deliver it? and WHY are you delivering the programme?)

  • Involve your key stakeholders from the earliest stages of the process to build strong relationships and create impactful resources

  • Take on board feedback from stakeholders and members of the public: use this to shape your programme and make it sustainable over time.

We rely on feedback from those who have used our toolkit trilogy, to evaluate how well we have achieved our aim. So, if you are considering introducing the strengths-based approach in your service, we’d really love to hear from you, whether you work within or away from the homelessness sector.

That way, we can make sure that our resources continue to be supportive and impactful.


Interested in learning more about our strengths-based resources for working with young people? You can check out all three of our toolkits , have a go at our new interactive goal-setting page and have a look through our other free resources.


What are your favourite strengths-based ways of working with young people? We’d love to hear them in the comments section, or on Twitter using #MSTtoolkit #MST4Life



Hammond, W. (2010). Principles of strength-based practice. Calgary, Alberta: Resiliency Initiatives. Retrieved from

Photo credit

thanasorn janekankit & charlin janene on Reshot.

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