Step three: review existing information

At this stage, it is important to think about what existing information you have.  The information sources you need to look at will very much depend on the scope of the needs assessment, and whether you want to mainstream or do a targeted assessment of need in your area.  But there are a number of information sources you should think about:

  • Information your partners hold – often, different organisations you work with will already be collecting information that might be useful to you.  For example, a local youth health project might have mapped the number of 16 to 19 year olds in your area.  You should speak with partners at an early stage to see if they have any information that might be useful to you and agree how this might be shared.  
  • Information you already collect – your organisation might already be collecting information that will be useful.  Looking at your existing monitoring information may show you which groups of people are currently accessing your service, and those who are not.  This might be a trigger for finding out more about specific equalities groups.  Reviewing your current monitoring information might also help you think about gaps in the information you are collecting.
  • Existing local research - There might already be a range of reports which look at local needs.  For example, evaluations of wider regeneration activity might highlight certain gaps.  You might also find that research in other areas – like housing – might provide basic information about the make up of the local community. 
  • Statistical information – a lot of statistical information is available publicly and online.  This includes the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics, 2001 Census, and local profiles – like Community Health and Wellbeing Profiles. Much of this data can be accessed at a community or neighbourhood level.  This kind of data can be helpful in helping you understand the prominence of some equalities groups in your area.