A SCOTTISH charity has been able to measure improvement levels amongst the families it works with for the first time, thanks to an innovative partnership with The Data Lab – Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence (AI).

Circle works with families to provide bespoke support designed to help children deal with social injustice, poverty and health inequalities and was able to demonstrate its “overwhelmingly positive” impact using data science.

It offers one-to-one support sessions to families affected by drugs, alcohol, imprisonment and other social issues, providing advice and helping them make positive lifestyle choices with the aim of improving the life and prospects of each family’s children.

However, until now Circle had not been able to consistently and uniformly measure the impact of its support sessions due to extremely high levels of variables involved.

Its partnership with The Data Lab saw a data scientist work with Circle to leverage a broad range of indicators – measured on a scale from one to 10 – such as supporting the reduction of alcohol or substance abuse, better budgeting of household finances and access appropriate housing.

Analysing the data collected over time allowed Circle to identify a benchmarking figure from which to estimate improvement across individual families.

Following counselling, data showed that on average, each family improved by 0.77 points after every support session, demonstrating the value of the work the charity was undertaking and helping it strengthen its case to secure additional government, trust and foundation funding. It is hoped the methodology can be applied across more third sector organisations facing similar challenges.

Dr Caterina Constantinescu, data scientist at The Data Lab, said: “The charity is now able to analyse sessions in much greater detail, and leverage data science techniques to inform policies and decisions in the future, providing Circle with key stats to use in future funding applications. It’s a great example of using data as a force for good.”

Alex Collop, project manager from Circle, added: “The Data Lab has been instrumental in helping us unlock the potential of data science as a means of measuring our impact.”