Measuring the wellbeing impact of the Connected Communities Fund

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Measuring the wellbeing impact of the Connected Communities Fund

On behalf of the team at Community First Oxfordshire and OCVA, we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who participated in our recent online session representing groups that have been supported by the Connected Communities Fund 2023/2024.  Your engagement and enthusiasm created such a warm atmosphere of collaboration and learning that definitely surpassed our expectations.

We got together to discuss one of the components of the evaluation and monitoring requirements of the programme – a “wellbeing measure”.  The programme was created to provide a means of support to grassroots groups and organisations to develop activities and projects in their local areas that help to create places that “support the people of Oxfordshire to live well in their community, remaining fit and healthy for as long as possible”.  To ensure that the programme is meeting its aims, we are seeking to find out if people’s participation in activities is having the affect that we want it to – that is, improving wellbeing.

We explored ways to capture the impact of groups’ activities on the wellbeing of the people who take part through simple questions that can provide a snapshot of how people feel about their participation in the activity, or about how they feel about their level of social contact and sense of community more generally.  We talked about picking a question that felt right for the context in which it was being asked as well as ways in which responses may be collected.

 

Throughout the session we had some insightful questions and thoughtful contributions that allowed us to think about this as a group:

“the group I’m working with… sometimes the barrier is language, so there can be another way of expressing their feeling and giving us the feedback… like through art?”

“I can’t assume that everyone that I’m working with could fill out a form so I was thinking about… is it something that we could either video or audio record?”

We emphasized that we wanted groups to feel that they can choose a measure that is appropriate for and proportionate to their context so that the results are meaningful.  We were also keen to suggest how the information could be used in other ways beyond the reporting requirements for the programme – to better understand group’s needs, to gain feedback on activities, for communications, and for additional fundraising.

Laura Price, OCVA CEO, also joined the call and highlighted that although we recognise funding is important, we also recognise the importance of how we can collectively work together to help large statutory organisations understand and see more of the activity that’s taking place in communities – day in, day out.  Through programmes like this we are able to evidence the contribution of community and voluntary sector with the view to it leading on to further funding opportunities, partnerships, and opportunities.

Collectively Community First Oxfordshire and OCVA thanked everyone for their active participation in the webinar and also for the great work that they do – those present on the webinar, those others who also received funding, or more generally groups and organisations across Oxfordshire.

A volunteer driver service to the hospital is about much more than a lift to an appointment.  It’s an act of kindness and friendship with a chance to chat and feel listened to – sometimes for passengers who may not see anyone else that week. This is true of all the opportunities that community and voluntary organisations provide for individuals to be part of a healthy and supported community life, a ‘connected community’.

A recording of the session is available

Lisa Stead

Project Development Manager, Community First Oxfordshire

Vicki Baker

Community Development Programme Officer, OCVA

The Connected Communities Fund, is being delivered in partnership by OCVA and Community First Oxfordshire and has been made available by Oxfordshire County Council.

 

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