Some commonly asked questions about SIGNAL and what we do

Please contact us if you have a specific question which is not covered below

Some commonly asked questions about SIGNAL

Signal is the UK version of an internationally recognised methodology called Poverty Stoplight.

The survey is a key part of the process because it’s the first step with individuals and households to begin the process of raising awareness and providing an opportunity to reflect on their circumstances and to be in control of determining their own priorities.  Therefore, Signal can:

– Help households who are living in poverty to think systematically about their problems and about potential solutions by unlocking the resources that are already available within households or communities
– Connect households with organisations that are best placed to tackle specific issues highlighted by the Signal methodology
– Help households demand and access public services, be it existing or new ones

On average it takes approximately 35 minutes to complete a survey. The reason is that in most contexts the survey process is an important part of the programme: it gives a framework for an in-depth, rich conversation and an analysis of the individual’s or household’s circumstances. In that sense, the surveying time cannot be compared with the time it takes to do a standard survey, as part of the benefits of this method arise directly from this interactive interview process.

Signal is fully compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In essence, this means that all personal data provided is protected, can be removed at the request of the individual and will not be sold or shared with 3rd parties without the permission of the individual. At the beginning of the survey, there is a form which explains the process to the participant, informs them about the data use and their rights, and asks for their consent. The survey process cannot start before consent is given.

Interviewers or mentors are provided with an induction workshop where they not only learn about the tool but also about the implications of touching certain subjects with individuals or households. We have, for example, developed a partnership with the Illegal Money Lending Team who can provide advice to mentors and a 24/7 hotline for individuals and households affected by loan sharks. Also, Signal is a voluntary process and households always have the option to not answer a specific question or to opt out of the process altogether.

SIGNAL works in many types of organisations and has been adapted and used in a broad range of contexts, including:

  1. Companies wishing to work with their employees;
  2. Local Authorities wishing to measure the social impact of regeneration programmes
  3. Local Housing, Advice & Guidance Agencies, and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations that are engaged with, for example, long-term unemployment, community regeneration, people not in employment, education or training (NEET), health and wellbeing, poverty elimination, homelessness, the migrant community, troubled families, and other socially excluded groups.

If you are seeking a way to improve the well-being of your employees, clients or beneficiaries, and/or if you are after an intuitive, participatory assessment tool, SIGNAL can be right for you.

No organization can address all 54 indicators; that’s why SIGNAL encourages an integrated community approach that allows organisations to identify existing solution providers in their area. Of course, you will be able to provide direct intervention, in line with your organisation’s expertise; and, for most organisations, this is likely to address between 1 and 6 of the indicators

There are many instances where organisations have leveraged their networks to help individuals and households address their chosen priorities, for example they have used the community-level information gathered through Signal to develop alliances and partnerships on behalf of their beneficiaries – for example, we’ve seen organisations secure discounts with certain insurance providers for their beneficiaries.

SIGNAL has been extensively adapted for a UK context within a framework that maintains its integrity. We work with our customers to continually improve and adapt the survey for specific contexts. As long as the 23 core indicators are incorporated into the survey, your organisation can add, merge or remove indicators depending on what your organisation would like to measure. We encourage customers to use the survey with their clients for a few weeks and then review the areas that might need adapting.
Prior to our launching SIGNAL in 2017, we spent a year developing and adapting the internationally recognised Poverty Stoplight methodology for the UK. During that period, we learnt that even though the methodology takes a holistic view of a household’s circumstances, the word ‘poverty’ carried such stigma that it became a barrier to opening up meaningful conversations with beneficiaries. We, therefore, branded the UK version as SIGNAL.

SIGNAL is easy to use. It is a Web-based platform which can also be run on an Android App, so, apart from downloading the app, there is no complicated installation procedure. We provide a 2-hour onboarding workshop which is enough to get you started and we also provide easy-to-use online guides and a help desk.

Many of SIGNAL’s customers use the tool to monitor and evaluate their existing programmes. By administering the survey every 6 – 12 months, organisational leaders are able to see the “befores” and “afters” of their target population. For example, imagine an organisation that offers a year-long job-training and life-skills program. That organisation can administer the SIGNAL survey at the beginning of the programme and at the end of the programme to evaluate and communicate how effective their services are.

We would say definitely, yes! We don’t suggest that SIGNAL should replace existing methodologies but rather that it adds value to them because it is designed to enable individuals, households and organisations to better understand the root causes of issues affecting them. That said a number of organisations have dropped using the Outcomes Star having seen how dynamic the methodology is for both themselves and most importantly for their service users. We work with organisations to make sure SIGNAL is integrated with their business models so that the data it provides is useful, dynamic and facilitates conversations about planning a future which is of equal value to the service user AND the organisation.

We collaborate with a range academic partners to strengthen the tool, in both its measurement aspect and methodology. Among others, these partners include Oxford University’s Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI); the University of California, Irvine (UCI); the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI); and the University of South Carolina. The tool has been validated by evaluating it using OPHI´s Alkire/Foster methodology and aligning it with official poverty and wellbeing indices.

SIGNAL can be used on and off-line. Our Android App can be downloaded on to a tablet and in circumstances where you have no internet connection, the survey will automatically sync with the main platform when you re-enter a wifi zone.

Poverty is a Multidimensional issue which goes beyond economics and encompasses the various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, dis-empowerment, poor quality of work, the threat of violence, and living in areas that are environmentally hazardous, among others things. We also describe poverty with other labels such as deprivation, complex lives, troubled families and many more.

Complex needs, social exclusion and poverty may have contrasting definitions, but they have a similar effect on individuals. Generally, where people face a range of pressing needs which are not dealt with effectively they can start to irritate and exacerbate one another until they become tangled up with all other life circumstances to create an inertia. Not knowing where to start or what to do to recover people feel they lack or are denied appropriate resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in normal relationships and activities. But what we now know here at SIGNAL by working closely with our partners in this field, is that when people suffer several problems simultaneously, it requires a multi-dimensional process to untangle their situation.  This is where SIGNAL come in and its greatest strength!

Yes, it can. We do however believe the methodology needs to be facilitated for greatest affect. For that reason, we have piloted and tested out remote facilitation during Covid19, with great success. We bespoke its delivery to the needs of an organisation and the access to digital means of their clients. For this reason, we scope this out with partners in advance.  Can we signpost you to this news item for further detail.

Yes.  We have developed a version for people with Learning Disabilities.

Yes, we have developed a 15-indicator version with UK partners for the COVID-19 period only. They can be accessed via our Demo site.