The Trust is working to strengthen the evidence base around the impact of community driven approaches on reducing health inequalities.

This learning supports residents on the ground to make their communities even better. It also supports our contribution to the wider debate around approaches to tackling health inequalities by addressing the social determinants of health.

The Trust is engaged in an extensive learning programme that covers both formal and informal evaluative methods to capture the full range of experiences and perspectives that contribute to the success and development of our funded projects. 

We have worked closely with evaluators and funded projects to develop theories of change for each of our programmes; Active Communities, Local Conversations and Local People. Each of these theories forms the basis of our impact reporting. 

Active Communities programme evaluation findings

The Trust has worked with research consultancy Ecorys UK to conduct an evaluation of the Active Communities programme and assess its impact since its inception in 2013. A formal three-year evaluation of the programme began in 2016-17.

The report of the first year of the evaluation highlights ways in which funded projects are achieving the two key programme aims; increasing social links and ties (social connections), and collective control - supporting residents to gain a sense of ownership and choice by developing their project and neighbourhood.

The report of the second year of the evaluation, 'Evaluating our Impact 2018', showed that participants of 93 per cent of projects had more friendships and connections as a result of being involved and 91 per cent said people felt less isolated. It described the journey that participants go on, from establishing confidence, aspiration and control, to potentially then taking wider action on social determinants in some cases.

The third and final year of Ecorys UK’s Active Communities evaluation has concluded. The final evaluation report, published in September 2020, is available to read here.

The evaluation has shown that 94 per cent of participants strongly agreed that they were making new friends from the network they accessed through the project, and 84 per cent felt they could have a say in how activities were designed, developed and run.

As part of the evaluation, Ecorys UK have also produced a number of case studies. The case study research found that the effects of these improved outcomes for individuals could be profound, providing them with the freedom to be themselves, develop support networks, trust, and connections to other groups, to develop shared interests that effectively supported the transfer of control.

Local Conversations programme evaluation findings

We are working with New Economics Foundation (NEF) to carry out an ongoing four-year evaluation of our Local Conversations programme. This work helps us understand the development and impact of this longer-term, place-based funding programme.

The findings have highlighted some useful recommendations and provide us with a baseline to measure progress that the 18 Local Conversation projects are having in their neighbourhoods.

NEF have looked closely at the development of collective control, and how it supports the reduction of health inequalities. They are also evaluating the extent to which Local Conversations are starting to influence within their neighbourhoods.

This year, they are looking closely at the economic context the projects are operating in, as well as any local economic impact they may have made.

Read the most recent report, published in August 2020.

Local People programme evaluation findings

We also worked with New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Leeds Beckett University to carry out a two-year independent evaluation of our Local People programme between 2017 and 2019.

Local People projects were funded by People's Health Trust between January 2015 - March 2021. Projects were delivered in partnership with national charities including Scope, Royal Voluntary Service, Youth Sport Trust and The Conservation Volunteers. The projects benefit from the experience and insights of these national partners.

NEF and Leeds Beckett University examined the impact of these longer-term, resident-led projects seeking to address health inequalities, which also place social connections and collective control at their core.

Read the final evaluation report, published in June 2020.


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