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‘Timely action for a shattered community’

On Tuesday 30th July 2019, heavy rainfall in the North Yorkshire Dales resulted in widespread flooding across Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale. The flooding caused extensive property damage and adversely affected the lives of people across the local area.

In response to the disaster, the Two Ridings Community Foundation (Two Ridings) established a Flood Recovery Fund, which provided grants to community members affected by the flooding. Working with a Grants Panel made up of local people, Two Ridings awarded grants totalling £490,620. These grants were spread across three phases, each with a distinct objective.

As the second anniversary of the flooding approaches, it is an appropriate time to reflect on what happened and how the Fund helped the community. Two Ridings commissioned the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of the Swaledale & Wensleydale Flood Recovery Fund (‘the Fund’). 

We expect that this report’s findings will generate learning for Two Ridings but they should also have broader applicability. At the end, we therefore make recommendations which are designed to enhance the ability of all community foundations to respond effectively to local disasters.

A Community Action Network – West End, Morecambe Bay

Since January 2020, the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has been supporting the Lancashire & South Cumbria Health and Care System on a test and learn initiative. Working at a place-based level, we looked at ways to draw on local leadership and the power and capacity of communities to improve their own health and wellbeing – in the context of the changing role of commissioning, with a more community-centred focus in the Integrated Care System (ICS).

The West End (Morecambe Bay) vision has been to find ways to improve local lives through sharing resources, seeking investment, supporting each other and, most importantly, involving local people in the conversations and decisions that affect them. In this case study, we review the journey so far, lessons learnt and the next steps forward. Not only is this a reflective document for the ICS in Lancashire and South Cumbria and the Community Action Network set up in the West End (Morecambe Bay), but inspiration for other locales developing and progressing cross-sector partnerships. 

To speak with IVAR about commissioning a project or for more information on cross-sector partnerships, please contact us on enquiries@ivar.org.uk 

For more information on this case study, please contact:

Yakub Patel – Chief Executive Officer of the Lancaster District Community and Voluntary Solutions –  yakpatel@lancastercvs.org.uk  


A social prescribing network in the Fylde coast

Since January 2020, the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has been supporting the Lancashire & South Cumbria Health and Care System on a test and learn initiative. Working at a place-based level, we looked at ways to draw on local leadership and the power and capacity of communities to improve their own health and wellbeing – in the context of the changing role of commissioning, with a more community-centred focus in the Integrated Care System (ICS).

In the Fylde Coast, the focus of the Test & Learn initiative was on the cross-sector gap where colleagues in Primary Care and the Voluntary Community Faith Social Enterprises (VCFSE) did not cross paths often, and on the need for a social prescribing community that works together. In response, a small steering group formed, combining the expertise and experience across the health and care systems. In this case study, we review the journey so far, participant feedback, what success looks like and the next steps forward. Not only is this a reflective document for the ICS in Lancashire and South Cumbria, but inspiration for other locales developing and progressing cross-sector partnerships. 

To speak with IVAR about commissioning a project or for more information on cross-sector partnerships, please contact us on enquiries@ivar.org.uk 

For more information on this case study, please contact:

 
Tracy Hopkins – VCFSE leader-  tracy.hopkins@blackpoolcab.org.uk 

Debbie Lagette – Social Prescribing Link Worker – deborah.lagette@nhs.net

Learning in the flow of working – Learning and evaluation in trusts and foundations during Covid-19

We have seen a growing appetite to make Covid-19 a transformational moment, enabling the learning function to inform, support and underpin a more agile and collaborative approach, resisting the ‘snap back into calcified, inflexible systems’. The convening of the Evaluation Roundtable in December 2020 saw the start of important conversations about how to make this aspiration a reality: ‘How do we use this moment as a catalyst – not just individually but collectively – to shift the relationship between funders and funded organisations?’.

 

Our first round of meetings of the Community of Practice for 2021 focused on returning learning to the system, in particular the mechanisms that are set up in our institutions to enable learning to flow back to the system to enable action, ‘so that it’s not stuck in one head and everybody can benefit’. How well do they support agility and experimentation? Do they value and make good use of different kinds of learning – both formal and informal? What gets in the way of good learning? This briefing draws on the contributions of 19 learning and evaluation staff from 17 foundations, and offers our reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

Response to change

We worked with the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST) to explore how small voluntary organisations (SVOs) responded to change and embraced tech* through the upheaval and uncertainty of 2020.

We found that SVOs are embracing tech through experimentation and innovation. While ‘everything now includes a digital element ’, digital doesn’t yet include everyone.




Our report includes: 

  • Tips and advice for SVOs
  • Stories of four SVOs embracing digital to respond to Covid
  • Suggestions for how funders can support SVOs’ use of tech
  • Challenges facing both SVOs and funders.

*A detailed explanation of what is meant by ‘tech’ can be found in the report: Start Somewhere.

Learning in Uncertainty

In December 2020 IVAR and the Center for Evaluation Innovation convened for the fifth UK Evaluation Roundtable, following on our discussions from making learning everyday, we focused on how we can learn in uncertainty. 

This session was framed around a growing appetite for learning within trusts and foundations to ensure the Covid-19 crisis acts as a transformational moment, taking valuable lessons from their flexibility, born from an emergency response, into future practice. The challenge to the learning function, however, is how best to inform, support and underpin this agile and collaborative approach, resisting the ‘snap back into calcified, inflexible systems’

Our reflections are anchored by four key insights, which you can read by downloading our latest report. 

We would like to thank to our longstanding sponsors of the Evaluation Roundtable, CCLA. 

During 2021, IVAR will support further exploration of these themes through the Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice. For more information on how to join these sessions, please contact us by email: events@ivar.org.uk 

UK Evaluation Roundtable Teaching Cases 2020

People and systems are under stress in unprecedented ways. Facing a volatile and uncertain future, more than ever foundations need good learning to support tough decisions about maximising their contribution. In our two new cases, Corra Foundation and Pears Foundation share how their approach to learning has performed under pressure in response to Covid-19, and their initial thoughts on how this will influence the way they learn for the longer term.

 

The cases should be read in conjunction with the Learning through uncertainty blog series  (produced by the Evaluation Roundtable Network of staff from over 60 Foundations) which links to our ongoing work on sustaining progressive practice into the future. Central to the work of the Roundtable Network is a recognition that, to be the best that they can be, foundations need to be thoughtful and reflective. Which is why learning is critical: balancing data with intuition; combining evidence with instinct. It is not an add on, it’s integral and essential.


Note: These cases were produced for the 2020 convening of the Evaluation Roundtable. The lines are numbered to support detailed discussion.

Thinking about… Merger, during Covid-19

Thinking about… Merger, during Covid-19 is primarily for senior staff and trustees of small and medium-sized voluntary organisations. It is not a guide to financial aspects of merger, nor is it a step-by-step ‘toolkit’. Instead, it brings together the experiences of a wide variety of voluntary organisations and advisers that have contemplated or carried out merger to highlight different dimensions of ‘thinking about merger’.

Some people may be able to consider merger carefully and patiently with their boards, staff and partners; others may be in more of a hurry and feel they have little choice – whatever your circumstances, we recommend fully exploring the feasibility of merger with your prospective partner(s)
before you commit.

We cover:
  • Reasons for thinking about merger
  • Stages in the merger process
  • What makes a successful merger?
  • A collaboration spectrum

 

We are planning a webinar for those thinking about merger – with Bates Wells – in July. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear when the date is set. 

 

Find quick insights on charity merger and practitioner perspectives here

Against Violence and Abuse

Download the two case studies of Against Violence and Abuse (AVA)’s approach to social change.

Executive summary

Advocacy, lobbying, campaigning and influencing are essential tools in the effort to tackle inequality and injustice. 

 

Small charities have a distinctive role to play in promoting and informing social change, with an agility and a direct relationship with the people at the sharp end of poverty, violence and discrimination that can be harder to achieve in larger organisations. 

 

We explored how and why small charities are challenging, shaping and changing policy, practice and attitudes. 

 

Download the summary of our findings.