Connect Hackney represents one of 14 programmes funded by Big Lottery to reduce and prevent social isolation among older people.
The Tavistock Institute was commissioned to co-produce a local programme-wide evaluation working with funded projects and Hackney CVS.
Connect Hackney wanted support for their local evaluation including its ‘Test and Learn’ structure. The local evaluation is intended to enable them to better understand and improve the delivery of the programme, working closely with their 19 delivery partners and service users to capture and analyse data in relation to the delivery of activities The evaluation focuses on the relationship between these and their outcomes, grounded in an understanding of where each project fits into the Connect Hackney Theory of Change and the shorter-term outcomes they have identified.Delivery partners are providing regular outcome data relating to their contracts and will also be inputting data gathered through a national evaluation for Ageing Better using a Common Measurement Framework (CMF) and required by Big Lottery.
The local evaluation will use the data gathered through the CMF and provide support for additional evaluation of areas not covered by this. Both the national and local data will feed into the Test and Learn Group which forms the main structure of the local evaluation, and focusing on particular areas of activity, reporting to an Oversight Group.The Test and Learn structure is intended to enable the local evaluation of the programme to be older people led. Volunteer Community Researchers, aged 50 plus, are working with the Community Involvement Officer and the Tavistock Institute to collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data across the programme and make recommendations to the steering group as to whether activities are achieving the intended outcomes and about the improvement of delivery. Older people are being supported and trained in order that they have the skills and opportunities to play an active role in the evaluation of the programme.
The evaluation aims:
To provide evidence and draw conclusions from programme delivery which will inform improvement of current delivery and the design of future services
To enable older people to participate in the evaluation of the programme through the Test and Learn process
More specifically, the evaluation has the following objectives:
To create a local evaluation framework which complements and is aligned to the national evaluation
To identify how far and in what ways Connect Hackney is meeting, or not, its programme aims
To co-create user-friendly and robust evaluation tools that Community Researchers and programme participants can use
To support the co-production of an older people led Test and Learn project
To support the Test and Learn group to make informed recommendations to delivery partners and the Connect Hackney steering group regarding improving the design and delivery of the programme
To review the Test and Learn model of co-production
The evaluation process also hopes to increase research capacity among older people, contribute to the continued development of services for older people in Hackney and to older people’s empowerment and involvement in the shape of future provision modelled on meeting their needs.
We have been working with Connect Hackney on the process of embedding the national evaluation in the practices of delivery partners as well as supporting ways in which projects ‘fill the gaps’ through their own local evaluations. There is no single method being adopted by the projects as they have developed approaches fit for purpose, i.e. for their specific activities. However, at the core of the programme is the process of co-production, primarily developed through and with volunteer Community Researchers.
We have been working with them by building research capacity and supporting their roles in analysis and reporting. Volunteer researchers are asked to complete a brief ‘entry’ questionnaire and, in addition to periodic follow-up questionnaires, the Tavistock Institute evaluation will use observation, in-depth interviews and group discussions with Community Researchers and other key stakeholders to review the experience as well identify, where possible, the impact of the programme on these volunteer older people and on the Connect Hackney programme as a whole.