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This paper describes the processes involved in evaluating a Sure Start programme in one inner city area. The evaluation was set up in the spirit of participatory action research in which the researchers aimed to work in partnership with key stakeholders to both enable and sustain supportive evaluative processes. The evaluation supported the aspirations espoused by the national Sure Start agenda to improve the lives of children under four, their parents and communities through an expressed commitment to partnership working. The paper draws on ethnographic reflections to describe and analyse the processes involved in setting up the evaluation over two years. Issues of trust, ambiguity and conflict associated with partnership working are explored. In particular the emotional components of relationships required to work in partnership are described as a means of managing ambiguity and conflict and promoting trust. Emotional labour is taken as a conceptual starting point to analyse the relationships and the organisational conditions required to sustain partnerships. Further psychoanalytic and sociological studies are drawn upon to aid the analysis and in particular to understand the emotional components of partnerships in the relatively uncharted waters of inner city regeneration work.

Keywords: emotions; evaluation; inner city regeneration; interprofessional working; participatory action research; partnerships

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-07-01

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