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Publication - Research Publication

Community-led regeneration approach: review

Published: 30 Aug 2017
Part of:
Communities and third sector, Research
ISBN:
9781788511582

Findings from an independent review into the partnership approach delivered by the People and Communities Fund (PCF).

104 page PDF

2.1MB

104 page PDF

2.1MB

Contents
Community-led regeneration approach: review
5. How Participants Benefited From the PCF Approach

104 page PDF

2.1MB

5. How Participants Benefited From the PCF Approach

Introduction

This Chapter presents the key findings from the primary research at Programme level ( i.e. the findings across all 12 projects), including some comparative qualitative analysis according to the different project themes, stakeholder groups and project models.

The findings were drawn from intensive workshop activity and individual telephone interviews with those who could not attend a workshop. The workshops incorporated group work so that experiences could be shared between the various stakeholders in a co-productive sense, but also enabled participants to tell their own learning journey and how they were able to have benefitted in the way they did (the workshop tools were chosen and designed by EKOS, bespoke to PCF and its projects).

The Chapter reports on the key findings only. Full primary research findings are presented in Appendix C .

Developing in Community Engagement and Co-production

The study explored the extent to which the PCF approach had enabled stakeholders to further their community engagement/co-production activities with each other.

Each workshop included an interactive exercise whereby Community Anchor staff (including partner organisations) and beneficiaries were asked to identify which type of community engagement activities they had participated in in 2014 (taken as a baseline) and to identify those activities in which they are currently engaged in.

A Development Ladder design facilitated this group exercise. By filling in the various steps of the ladder, participants could see the extent to which they had developed their community-engagement and co-production capabilities over time, and distance travelled towards achieving meaningful and sustainable outcomes. The importance of the exercise was in identifying progress made, not which step of the Development Ladder has been reached.

Table 5.1 (below), outlines the levels of co-production at 2014 (taken as a baseline), levels of co-production today (2017) and the level of change observed (low, medium, high) by participant group. This is presented for the 11 projects that have participated in this exercise according to their associated Co-production Model.

The findings of the Development Ladder exercise have been assessed in terms of the extent of progress made by the participants whereby staff and partners formed one group and the community members another group.

Table 5.1: Levels of Co-production in 2014 and 2017 and Change Experienced

Staff and partners

Community Members
(Service Users and Volunteers)

Model

2014

2017

Change

2014

2017

Change

1=Traditional

high

high

low

high

high

medium

1=Traditional

medium

medium

medium

low

high [4]

medium

1=Traditional

high

high

medium

n/a

n/a

low [5]

2=Employability and Skills

medium

med/high

med/high

low

med/high

high

2=Employability and Skills

medium

high

medium

low

high

medium

3=Two level support

medium

medium

medium

low/med

high

high

4=Progression

low

med/high

med/high

low

high

high

4=Progression

high

high

high

low

high

medium

4=Progression

high

high

low

medium

med/high

medium

4=Progression

medium

medium

med/high

low

high

high

5=Double progression

medium

med/high

med/high

medium

high

med/high

Note should be taken that the assessment of Co-production development / change was also based on the pattern across the ladder regarding the number of participants indicating progress at different levels each. This resulted at times in a higher or lower score regarding the development over time - this cannot be shown on this table and an average score was therefore applied.

The table shows that the extent of community engagement was fairly mixed for Community Anchor staff and partner organisations and either stayed the same or increased slightly until 2017. At times, although the level of engagement stayed the same, some projects were able to increase the intensity of their engagement with the target groups (reflected in a 'high' or 'med/high' score).

The table further shows that there has been clear positive change across the board for community members, with almost all projects achieving positive change and an increased scale of community-engagement since 2014.

The type of co-production model does not appear to have an effect on the extent of change achieved in community-engagement, as no clear pattern emerges.

Perceived Achievements

It was important to capture the perceptions of participants regarding their achievement, i.e. what they felt were their key benefits and effects from participation in their respective project. Community Anchor staff, partner organisations, and community members (service users and volunteers [6] ) were asked to identify their immediate associations with the PCF project and what it has meant to them.

Each participant was given time to think about their achievements before the findings were shared with the group. This encouraged the group to reflect on their outcomes, which often triggered further recognition of achievements gained from project engagement. Answers were grouped into common themes and aggregated.

The 'Ketso' workshop facilitiation method was used as outlined in Appendix A .

The most commonly identified achievements were broadly similar across all three participant groups, with more friends, increased community involvement, new skills and improved relationships the most common.

Looking at the findings by participant group, it shows that community members were the most likely to identify improved confidence and skills, whilst partners most often identified expanded services and improved relationships as their key achievements. Figure 5.1 presents the detailed findings.

Figure 5.1: Outcomes identified [7] by Participant Type

Figure 5.1: Outcomes identified by Participant Type

Partners N=19, Community Anchors N=34, Community Members N=56

Unexpected Results

Workshop participants were also asked to identify any outcomes that they had not expected to emerge through PCF project engagement. The three stakeholder groups reported the following (in no particular order):

Partner Organisations

  • Realising that anything is achievable with effective partnership working, there is always a solution; increased knowledge and confidence; developed new relationships with staff/volunteers.
  • Growing confidence not only in beneficiaries but also in staff; people realising their abilities.

Community Anchor Staff

  • Positive impact on my family and my children - they are more ambitious; more inclined to volunteer themselves.
  • New energy in offices; positive feedback from participants; Investor in Young People accreditation.
  • Increased partnership working; strengthening relationships between Community Anchor and the wider community; learnt more about the area; witnessed greater cohesion throughout all activities and services; seeing people learn new skills and applying them; new friendships.
  • Showcase different skills and cultures; the achievements and sense of pride developed by the young people involved with the project; the enjoyment of working in schools (when I didn't think I would).
  • Becoming more sensitive to the needs of others ; improving people's English; tourists now visit our shop; the garden; Kids Enterprise; mentally ill people giving a sense of belonging; doll making enterprise.

Community members/beneficiaries

  • Made new friends; having a less stressful lifestyle since becoming involved; my confidence has been boosted; more aware of everything that the community organisation is offering.
  • Found a sense of purpose; enjoying helping others; developed new friendships/relationships; developed new skills; improved access to expanding local services.
  • Being better able to cope, getting compliments, realising that I am valued.
  • Positive impact on family and children - following the good example of their mum or dad or carer, family members of service users are more ambitious; more inclined to volunteer themselves.

Detailed Outcomes at Programme level

The final session focused on exploring further detail of the learning journeys of each PCF participant.

The emphasis was to identify in greater detail how and why the previously identified outcomes were achieved, what enabled participants to succeed? Working in pairs, alone or supported by a study team member (if preferred), participants used mini interviews to help them through this exercise.

This part of the workshop was most closely aligned with the requirements of the Realist Evaluation approach used in this study.

Following the workshop, the learning journeys described by the participants were coded into Realist Evaluation terminology of Context/ Mechanism/ Outcomes (please see Glossary for explanation of these terms).

Contexts

In Realist Evaluation, contexts are the type of activities engaged with, services received/delivered including the quality in terms of one-to-one or group settings (the study looked at all three participant groups and their experiences, therefore findings include the perspective of those engaged in service delivery as well as those receiving the service).

The contexts which interviewees most commonly experienced were generally around the initial stages of project engagement, such as being made to feel welcomed, completing a needs assessment, being able to review needs assessments throughout the engagement, and being pro-actively encouraged to contribute through volunteering, and to take up opportunities and training.

Community members were most likely to experience social contexts such as being made to feel welcome and being able to socialise and network. Community anchor staff emphasised the greater levels of opportunities and diversity of services which they were able to offer, whilst partners identified awareness raising and co-delivery opportunities, Figure 5.2.

Figure 5.2: % Experiencing Each Context by Participant Type

Figure 5.2: % Experiencing Each Context by Participant Type

Partners N=16, Community Anchors N=39, Community Members N=65

As presented in Appendix C :

With regard to the project themes; training and upskilling, and advice/support services projects have more identified contexts than volunteering and mentoring projects.

In terms of the models of co-production; workshop participants were more likely to identify contexts the higher up the co-production ladder they were, particularly with regard to the social contexts such as being made to feel welcome and socialising.

Short-Term Outcomes

The logical sequence of the Realist Evaluation approach is looking at Contexts 'firing' Mechanisms that lead to Outcomes. However, for practical reasons and ease of working with this approach, following the identification of contexts, workshop participants were first asked to consider the outcomes that they have experienced. This linked directly to the previous exercise. Now the outcomes had to be attributed to the different contexts the participants had identified. The differentiation between short-term and long-term outcomes was made by the research team during the coding of the collected information according to ToC specification.

Community members are the most likely to identify an increase in skills, knowledge or understanding and improved aspirations, whilst partners identified increased engagement, improved connectedness and better partnership working as key outcomes, Figure 5.3.

Figure 5.3: % Experiencing Each Short-Term Outcome by Participant Type

Figure 5.3: % Experiencing Each Short-Term Outcome by Participant Type

Partners N=16, Community Anchors N=39, Community Members N=65

As presented in Appendix C :

When a project delivered training and upskilling activities there was a greater level of short-term outcomes reported regarding an increase in skills, knowledge and understanding, increased engagement, and life changing experiences.

There is a clear difference between the different models of co-production, with traditional methods having a relatively low-level of short-term outcomes and the two level support and double progression models having a higher level.

Long-Term Outcomes

In general, a lower level of long-term outcomes were identified than short term-outcomes, which is unsurprising given that long-term outcomes by their nature take longer to evolve.

The most common outcomes identified by community members were improved well-being and improved life chances whilst for partners, improved social capital and more sustainable and improved service provisions were more prevalent. The two positive effects on service provision were also the most frequently mentioned long-term outcomes for the Community Anchors, Figure 5.4.

Figure 5.4: % Experiencing Each Long-Term Outcome by Participant Type

Figure 5.4: % Experiencing Each Long-Term Outcome by Participant Type

Partners N=16, Community Anchors N=39, Community Members N=65

As presented in Appendix C :

In projects focusing on delivering advice and support generally the fewest long-term outcomes were identified, but with strengths in improved service provision and improved social capital being readily apparent. In projects focusing on training and upskilling generally had the highest level of long-term outcomes with improved wellbeing, improved life chances and employment being the most common.

With regard to the co-production models; similar to short-term outcomes, the traditional model (Model 1) sees comparatively few long-term outcomes, whilst the two level support and double progression models have the largest impact, particularly on employment and improved social capital.

Mechanisms

In Realist Evaluation, mechanisms are the psychological responses of the participants' to the changes experienced as a consequence of engaging in the activities and services delivered. In this sense, the workshop participants were asked to consider how they thought the project/activity engagement enabled them to achieve the outcomes they have identified. For example, attending a training course does not necessarily lead to a achieving a successful outcome.

For all three participant groups together, the top two identified mechanisms were trust/relationship building, and belonging/connectedness. In addition, for community members, other commonly identified mechanisms concerned personal development, such as confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and pride.

Additional strong mechanisms for partners included ownership, reciprocity and sense of influence. For community anchors, trust/relationship building and belonging/connectedness were the key mechanisms identified by the majority, Figure 5.5.

Figure 5.5: % Experiencing Each Mechanism by Participant Type

Figure 5.5: % Experiencing Each Mechanism by Participant Type

Partners N=16, Community Anchors N=39, Community Members N=65

As presented in Appendix C :

Projects focusing on training and upskilling, and volunteering and mentoring generally experienced a greater level of identified mechanisms than projects delivering advice / support services, particularly around issues such as pride, ownership, empowerment and self-esteem.

By co-production model: we can broadly see a greater level of mechanisms experienced as we move from the traditional model to models with greater levels of co-production, with the two level support and double progression models identifiying a greater variety of mechanisms.

Summary Findings by Stakeholder Group

This section summarises the findings from the above diagrams and presents the experienced contexts, outcomes and changes by participant groups.

Contexts, Outcomes and Mechanisms reported by Partner Organisations:

The majority of participants representing partner organisations identified the following manner in which the PCF approach worked for them:

Providing context through:

  • Awareness raising; and
  • Improved co-delivery/offering volunteering opportunities.

Achieving outcomes:

  • Improved connectedness, networking with local communities;
  • Increased engagement;
  • Improved collaborations and co-operation at strategic level;
  • Offering more relevant, targeted support services
  • Enhanced sustainable service provision;
  • Improved performance regarding social inclusion;
  • Being a more inclusive organisation; and
  • Employment gains.

Enabling positive mechanisms in areas such as:

  • Increased trust and relationships;
  • Increased ownership and commitment;
  • Reciprocity;
  • Sense of influence; and
  • Achieving a sense of making a difference.

Contexts, Outcomes and Mechanisms reported by Community Anchor staff:

The PCF approach worked for the majority of participants representing the Community Anchors in the following manner:

Providing context through:

  • Offering a diversity of services; and
  • Offering more opportunities.

Achieving outcomes:

  • Improved connectedness, networking with local communities;
  • Increased engagement; and
  • Improved service provision.

Enabling positive mechanisms in areas such as:

  • Increased trust and relationships; and
  • Sense of influence.

Contexts, Outcomes and Mechanisms reported by volunteers and beneficiaries:

The majority of participants representing community members (service users and volunteers) identified the following manner in which the PCF approach worked for them:

Contextual environment:

  • Feeling welcomed and wanted;
  • Being able to socialise and network; and
  • Being encouraged to take up opportunities.

Achieving outcomes:

  • Improved skills, knowledge and know-how and understanding;
  • Improved aspirations, vision and goals, entrepreneurship; and
  • Improved wellbeing .

Enabling positive mechanisms in areas such as:

  • Increased trust and relationships;
  • Improved confidence;
  • Improved self-esteem; and
  • Increased pride.

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