This report provides an overview of the findings of the third wave of research to assess the impact of People’s Health Trust’s Local Conversations and Active Communities programmes.

The research has been undertaken independently by Social Life. The third wave of research took place in between February and March 2023, about a year after the second wave. The goal of this research is to understand the ways in which community-led projects can improve health and wellbeing outcomes. The research took place with practitioners and project participants from the Trust’s Local Conversations and Active Communities funding programmes in England, Scotland and Wales. This report combines findings from wave one and wave two.

Through in-depth questionnaires, both shorter and longer-term changes in both neighbourhoods and the residents taking part. These findings have also been considered against comparisons with nationally available datasets (Community Life Survey, Understanding Society, the National Survey for Wales and the Scottish Household Survey).

Social Life found evidence that participation in the Trust’s programmes has a significant impact on participants’ confidence, knowledge and skills, as well as supporting the building and strengthening of social connections. Those taking part also reported increased levels of belonging to their neighbourhoods and trust in their neighbours.

Participation also led to a significant positive impact on local people’s community power, which directly correlated with improved health and improved wellbeing on Active Communities and Local Conversations programmes respectively.

These outcomes demonstrate impact in some of the key building blocks of good health.

Key findings

  • 91% of the surveyed participants involved in Active Communities projects and 74% of those involved in Local Conversations projects said they had learnt or developed new or existing skills through the project.
  • 80% of participants said they believe they can change the way their area is run, compared to 51% in similarly disadvantaged neighbourhoods across Great Britain.
  • Eight in ten Local Conversations report increasing their influence over services in their neighbourhoods.

The Local Conversation has been probably the most empowering project I have seen, heard of, or taken part in.

Local Conversation project participant.

About the evaluation

Social Life are independently evaluating People’s Health Trust’s Local Conversations and Active Communities programmes. This third wave of the research was published in September 2023. 272 participants from Local Conversations and 174 participants from Active Communities projects were involved in the second wave of the research. Ten practitioners from Local Conversations and 139 from Active Communities projects took part in the online practitioner survey.