Evaluation of the Impact of the Lancashire BME Reaching Communities Support 360 Project - Interim Report

Wainwright, John Peter orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8190-0144, Karolia, Ismail, Hargreaves, Paul and Ridley, Julie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0879-308X (2023) Evaluation of the Impact of the Lancashire BME Reaching Communities Support 360 Project - Interim Report. Project Report. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Official URL: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/research/centres/grace


Executive Summary
This brief interim report provides some early findings for the National Lottery funded Support Project 360, led by Lancashire BME Network (LBN) alongside four partner agencies (Bangladeshi Welfare Association, ITHAAD, Northern Community Network, the People’s Enterprise and Empowerment Forum). The evaluation aimed to explore how the partnership was working to provide information, advice and guidance to vulnerable communities as well as looking at its’ impact on human/social capital and community connectivity and consider future sustainability of the service. The methodology drew upon the Connected Communities approach used by the Centre for Citizenship and Community (Parsfield et al, 2015), specifically involving, training and supporting IAGs and voluntary staff to undertake interviews, disseminate and collect surveys with their clients.
The data used in this report is based on a focus group with five project officers/ IAGs from across the four delivery agencies, analysis of monitoring information alongside the LBN’s annual reports. The evaluation has been significantly impeded by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent national restrictions from March 2020. Further data that is planned to be collected in 2021 will provide a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of the service.
Key Findings
• LBN and the four partner agencies have worked effectively to provide a support service that has exceeded targets set for this project.
• The five agencies (LBN plus its four partners) have developed a flexible system of working that enables them to collaborate effectively and to offer a sustainable service.
• The Covid pandemic provided an unexpected challenge for LBN and the four agencies, but the project officers turned the crises into an opportunity to work flexibly and creatively with their clients.
• The welfare needs of the clients that accessed the support 360 project have been met by IAGs and voluntary workers in the agencies.
• The project provided a vehicle for the project officers and volunteer workers to provide opportunities for women beyond the original service. Some women became volunteer IAGs, which led on to them accessing training, education and employment services in the community.
• IAGs in the agencies were able to sensitively challenge cultural barriers within communities that placed men as expected heads of the household and main breadwinner for the family.
• Through breaking down these barriers, the support 360 project has already moved beyond welfare provision to that of catalyst for clients and communities to become socio- economically independent.
• The support project provided a service for the newly established Polish/Eastern European community, particularly regarding supporting the provision of school places for their children.
• The agencies in the support project were able to work with volunteers and clients to develop social and cultural capital through the training provided. This contributes to the service supporting the development of pscho-social resilence in many of the clients in the community.
• The covid crisis highlighted the need for digital training and support. Many clients are disconnected from wider society and further work needs to be done to enable widen digital access to increase participation in the community.
• While current monitoring systems provide a useful picture of the range, level, and quality of service provided by LBN and the four agencies, these systems would benefit from being improved to ensure that the excellent outcomes achieved are also evidenced alongside service outputs.
• LBN have led and co-ordinated the support 360 service impressively. Through working in partnership with the four agencies they have been catalysts for improving the cultural pyscho- social and economic wellbeing of all the clients that accessed the service

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