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In 2018, we were asked to lead the learning and evaluation partnership for the Building Connections Fund, an £11.5 million joint initiative by the government, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Co-Op Foundation to reduce loneliness.

We are gathering evidence together to improve the evidence base on loneliness, which will be used to inform longer term policy and funding decisions. Our partnership will support grant holders with evaluation through a programme of online guidance, workshops, and tailored assistance. We’re working with grant holders in two ways:

  • Supporting grant-holders and the wider sector to learn from the data collected and improve their service provision.
  • Focused evaluation on a sub-group of around 30-40 grant holders, to inform the wider sector as well as the evaluation of the Fund.

We’re also sharing evidence and insights from grantees through workshops, webinars and a dedicated webpage in collaboration with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Our final evaluation of the Building Connections Fund is due for release in 2021. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with our latest research.

 

Building the evidence base

One of the big lessons we have learnt so far is that the evidence base around what works to combat loneliness is limited and inconsistent around demographic groups. What also became clear very quickly is that we need to radically improve our understanding of loneliness, its factors and effects for different people, and how we can prevent or alleviate it.

To help build the evidence base, we’ve produced a simple guide to help you evaluate your activities to tackle loneliness, so that together we can improve the sector’s understanding of what works.

You do not need to have any prior knowledge of impact measurement or evaluation to use this guidance.

 

How to evaluate charitable work

Evaluation is about asking the most fundamental questions: Are we making a difference? How can we improve? Are we reaching the right people? How does our programme lead to change? By asking these questions, you can learn what changes occur, how change happens, and what causes change.

This guidance has been produced for Building Connections Fund grant-holders but can be applied to any activities aimed at reducing loneliness. It is designed to complement the What Works Centre for Wellbeing’s Brief guide to measuring loneliness.

This guidance consists of three sections:

  1. The national measures of loneliness. All organisations working on tackling loneliness should consider if they can use these to evaluate their work.
  2. Five steps for developing and implementing a measurement framework for evaluating your work.
  3. Practical advice for using different approaches and methods for data collection and analysis. We also outline key evaluation considerations relating to research ethics and data protection.

Read our guidance below:

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