Evaluation of Connecting for Change: The story so far! Since May 2019 Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has been working with Help on Your Doorstep to evaluate Connecting for Change, a four-year initiative funded by The National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Reaching Communities programme. Connecting for Change is a support programme that includes an action plan to support progress and help residents to ‘own’ the solutions to the challenges they are facing. The Institute for Voluntary Action Research is a charity that works closely with people and organisations striving for social change. They are the evaluation partners to Help on Your Doorstep. IVAR have been out and about listening to residents in the Islington community. They have been hearing their experiences of Connecting for Change. We’re sharing their latest updates first so that you can find out what they’ve been up to most recently. Year 2. Deciding on the evaluation process Evaluation process designed and agreed with staff at Help on Your Doorstep. This involved: Resident conversations Between January and March 2020 IVAR carried out 10 face-to-face interviews with Islington residents to start to capture their experience of how this new Connecting for Change approach is working for them This is one example of how Help on Your Doorstep has positively impacted on a resident’s life: By having one place that he can come to that will help support with any issue or need that he brings, either from the Connecting for Change led by Help on Your Doorstep somewhere else, has given him security, safety, and boosted his confidence by knowing that there are places out there that he can turn to for help. Being asked to be a community champion and to take part in the different surveys meant a lot. Especially that another thought they were capable and that they understand what people are going through. It is now more than ever that it is important for people to represent others that might be in a worse situation. A practical problem - getting a Freedom Pass that had become difficult due to an inordinate amount of to-ing and fro-ing with chasing up, repeat filling in, not having the right ID and so on – eventually requiring extra support as stress was starting to build. This fairly straightforward request led to a broader conversation about other needs resulting in the same resident getting a cooker. To find out more about our resident conversations read our blog. Partner interviews In February and March IVAR spoke with 5 Islington partner organisations and services to hear their perspective on working with referrals from Help on Your Doorstep/Connecting for Change. Partners said: The HOYD team have extensive knowledge of what services are being provided in the area and the needs of the residents Long established network of relationships that work The Big Knock – a way for partners to observe how this works, in practice The referrals are generally a good fit with partner criteria The staff are approachable individuals so partners feel they can ask them anything The organisation really cares about what they are doing and go the extra mile Alignment of values - this helps have good working relationships with their partners as they are trying to reach the same goals. Staff conversations Staff where keen to share their experiences. Here are the highlights: The action plan works! They allow residents to sets goals and supports them through their journey….sometimes it’s hard to keep them on track as the fear of losing benefits if they are being helped in a major concern. Outreach works too, but GP’s/others don’t always refer for the right reasons. 3-month call back useful to identify if longer term support is needed. The language must be accessible, i.e. it isn’t a ‘programme’ but is about a very unique experience for one person at their own pace We are all learning as we go – as the approach ‘beds in’ adaptations can be made. Steering Group Meetings More information coming soon about the steering group meetings. Year 1. Getting to know you! IVAR spent time getting to know Help on Your Doorstep structure and work in practice. This involved: Setting up a steering Group Undertaking workshop Stakeholder engagements Staff conversations Reviewing of data and learning Find out more about other reports and publication at Help on Your Doorstep here.