Active Communities programme evaluation

03 September 2020

The Active Communities evaluation carried out by Ecorys has just been published and it found that projects funded through People’s Health Trust's Active Communities programme had supported people to come together and boost social connections, with the project’s activities being a key source of social interaction for many of those involved. Evidence also suggests that many projects were successful in reaching people who were or had been previously socially isolated.

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

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. 84% of participants were satisfied with the amount of control they had over the project.

Through the collective control they develop by leading their projects together, local people have built more self-confidence, aspiration, a sense of empowerment and a greater sense of control over the rest of their lives. The evaluation shows participants gain control from an increasing sense of ownership over project activities and actions, which leads to greater individual and group-level belief in self-efficacy. People’s Health Trust established our Active Communities programme in 2012, targeted at neighbourhoods in England, Scotland and Wales which disproportionately experience social and economic disadvantage and health inequalities. Typically lasting up to two years, the grants have been between £5,000 and £50,000 for each project with the size of an average grant around £27,234.[1]

The programme supports participants to come up with their own locally determined ideas, in order to strengthen social connections and encourage greater collective control, two important social determinants of health which form the foundations for good health. By empowering participants to take the lead and by putting processes in place to address issues that are important to them, the programme aims to make local communities and neighbourhoods fairer places in which to grow, live, work and age.

Ecorys UK have been independently evaluating the programme’s theory of change and its impact since 2016. The third and final year of the Active Communities evaluation ran from October 2018 to December 2019.

There are many moving examples of life-changing benefits to be found among the case studies, and learning demonstrates that even moderate engagement with projects is likely to provide substantial benefits.

You can read the full summary report, including key findings here.

[1] The maximum grant size has been £40,000 since 2019.


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