Resilience, Recovery & Happiness with Music Action International, Bassajamba CIC and University of Manchester
How can diverse, often marginalised communities, help the health sector support them with their health, resilience and recovery needs? This was the question asked by the Resilience, Recovery, Happiness action research project by Bassajamba CIC; Music Action International and The University of Manchester; funded by The Wellcome Trust. Bassajamba interviewed experts across Manchester / Greater Manchester communities to find out how local groups need more support in evidencing the many and sometimes unexpected ways they have found to enhance physical and mental wellbeing. Music Action International piloted a short project to find out how their musical approach can help improve the resilience, recovery or happiness of refugees and asylum seekers in the area. Researchers at The University of Manchester are keen to find out how they can work more closely with local communities. Together the partners explored ways to formalise and give more weight to what communities have seen work in practice. Impact was assessed by:
Wellbeing at The Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery
The Whitaker Community Interest Company contracted Sally to assess the community impact of the museum and art gallery they are contracted to manage; having spent two years redeveloping the venue and introducing a new vision and programme, saving the building from closure.
By evaluating a series of events over 6 months, and consulting with the visiting public onsite and online, as well as staff and volunteers, it became evident that The Whitaker was particularly strong in developing local pride in the wider area; a significant increase in wellbeing during visits compared to other areas of visitor life; a unique proposition due to the mix of environment, programme, vision and facilities; a strong positive effect on the lives of volunteers (including health, wellbeing, employment, educational and economic outcomes) and an expertly developed approach to inclusion. In addition, The Whitaker's contribution to local strategy was highlighted through its projects and programmes for older people, which help the area meet its dementia friendly aims.
The research was carried out using a range of methods including social return on investment principles; observational tools developed by health and academia professionals; the New Economics Foundation Dynamic Wellbeing Model and Five Ways to Wellbeing; creative consultation activities; and more traditional market research methods.
As a result of the evidence produced, The Whitaker received the Best Cultural Venue award for Lancashire in the regions' tourism awards (2015); and have been able to use the research as evidence in a major capital funding bid to help secure the venue's future. It also highlighted the potential to improve income generation, expand its volunteering programme, and further increase its levels of customer service.
Shaping places and identity with Manchester Histories
After several years monitoring profile, partnerships and attendances for their flagship Festival project, Manchester Histories wanted to dig deeper and test their instinct that the Festival also created social impact. They commissioned Sally to develop a new evaluation framework which would cover 400+ events produced by 200+ partners and c68,000 visitors across nearly 90 locations. Using quantitative and qualitative methods based on a range of social, cultural and wellbeing outcome frameworks; an outcomes map was created showing the short and medium term outcomes and the impact they contribute towards in the longer term. This was then embedded into a larger logic model summarising the full resources, reach and impact of the Festival. As a result the Festival has been able to demonstrate its impact on increased wellbeing; stronger culture and identity of diverse populations; and improved places and communities. It also has a better understanding of the needs of its partners and the improvements it can make to systems and resources.
Photo: Drew Forsyth
Expanding the Business Model at The Highlife Centre
The Highlife Centre in Coventry has a well developed programme of activity and support to help excluded or disadvantaged individuals and communities break through barriers that stop them achieving their full potential, and work towards a more confident and productive life. Often this involves training and / or social activities that enable people to feel more ready for work and develop financial independence. After a pilot programme exploring how African heritage can contribute to these aims, the Centre chose to embed this aspect of its work as one of its charitable objects and embed it more permanently and vitally into the core of its work.
Sally advised them on the best steps to achieving this meaningfully, including:
Resilience Not Reliance Event
Sally offered free advice on evaluation and impact at the Resilience not Reliance events in Yorkshire, designed to help cultural organisations explore ways in which partnership and collaboration can lead to stronger business models and a more sustainable future. Sally provided advice about measuring impact, as one of the pool of industry specialists hosting hot-desk surgeries.
Social Return on Investment with Leeds Museum & Art Gallery
In partnership with fellow Social Return on Investment evaluator / Social Value UK Member Andy Bagley, Sally co-ran a development and scoping workshop with Leeds Museums & Galleries to help the senior leadership team understand the potential social, economic and environmental impact they might be having across their venues and sites. The workshop lead the team to consider and prioritise the benefits to their visitors and other stakeholders; and explore a pilot project which could test and develop a methodology to be used across the rest of their sites, and by the wider museum sector.