This report provides an overview of the findings of the first two waves of research assessing the impact of People’s Health Trust’s Local Conversations and Active Communities programmes.
The second wave of this research took place in March 2022. 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 have been identified and measured against existing data for people living in the areas experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage. It uses comparisons with nationally available datasets (Community Life Survey, Understanding Society, the National Survey for Wales and the Scottish Household Survey).
The shorter term changes showed positive impacts on participants’ confidence, development of new skills, social networks and feelings of trust and belonging. Longer term changes were also identified and were linked to positive outcomes in the shorter term changes.
We know from our own work and research that social connections and community power are building blocks which are vital to our health and wellbeing in themselves, and are also key to tackling other factors. Data from across the two programmes shows that surveyed participants had more positive perceptions of community power than people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage, across England, Scotland and Wales. The latest survey found that the programmes are making a positive difference in people’s lives, which supports the findings from the first wave of research. Reinforcing evidence from the Local Conversations Evaluation, 81% of those surveyed agreed that when people in their area get involved in their local community, they really can change the way that their area is run, compared to 51% of the people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage.
- 84% agreed that the friendships and associations they had with other people in their neighbourhood meant a lot to them, compared to 49% of the people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage.
- 87% of the Active Communities project participants who were surveyed, and 73% of Local Conversations participants surveyed said they had learnt or developed new or existing skills through the project.
- 76% of those surveyed agreed that they feel they belong to their neighbourhood, compared to 56% of the people living in areas with similarly high levels of disadvantage.
The survey also shows that practitioners believe projects created opportunities for locally based collaborative work. 76% of the surveyed Local Conversations practitioners and 63% of Active Communities programme practitioners said that the projects have facilitated new partnerships between local projects or organisations with common goals or interest. All Local Conversations practitioners who were surveyed and 30% of Active Communities practitioners reported that the projects have increased their influence over services in their neighbourhood.
Yes [it has made a difference in my life], because it has allowed me to take a more in-depth look at [the local area] and it feels good to be involved with the community.
Local Conversations participant
About the evaluation
Social Life are independently evaluating People’s Health Trust’s Local Conversations and Active Communities programmes. This second wave of the research was published in January 2023. 271 participants from Local Conversations and 145 participants from Active Communities projects were involved in the second wave of the research. Eight practitioners from Local Conversations and 146 from Active Communities projects took part in the online practitioner survey.