Why we evaluate

A tree filled park, dappled in sunlight, with people sitting on the grass and walking and cycling on the path

Jessica Duffy, Hub ambassador and Good Practice Mentor, shares her personal reflections on the evaluation data Leeds Older People’s Forum collects, why they do it and what they do with it. 

A sun lit park with people cycling and walking.

I’ve been thinking about evaluation

Since sharing a presentation with the Time to Shine’s local evaluators at a Tackling Loneliness Hub workshop on loneliness evaluation design and data gathering and having a look through the first monitoring reports from Enhance delivery partners, I’ve been thinking a bit about what information we collect, why we ask for it and what we do with it. It’s top of my mind too because, now we have launched Enhance, I have a bit of breathing space to think more about my main role this year.

As Good Practice Mentor, one of my roles was to help ensure we bedded Enhance in, using as much of our Time to Shine learning as we could. So we are:

  • Collecting peer learning from the start.
  • Making sure we ask questions only if we know we’re going to read the answers and use them to prove the business case.
  • Trying to make sure we share good practice from one delivery partner to another as soon as we can.

The major part of my role, however, is to make sure that those of you who did know about Time to Shine don’t forget what we learned, and that those of you who are new find out what learning there is on the Leeds Older People’s Forum website.

Greater than the sum of parts

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of our longest and probably most important reports.

Greater than the Sum of the Parts, and its associated toolkit Creating a Cohesive Programme, takes a look at the programme approach which Time to Shine used to help people work together. I’m not expecting everyone to read all of it – although I think many of you might find the section on practical actions interesting, but I’d love anyone who ever plans a grant-making programme or commissions an activity to read them both from cover to cover – please. It could make what you do easier and more effective. No need to find out for yourself what we spent seven years trialling.

This is what monitoring (or collecting the information) and evaluation (thinking about what it told us) did. It meant we learned about how things you did as Time to Shine partners worked in real life, and hopefully we can share some of those with others of you to speed up the process of improvement across the sector.

We can’t force people to share information in the future, but I hope that during the rest of this year, I can convince you of the benefits of doing so. Maybe if we pretend we are part of a cohesive programme to improve the lives of older people in Leeds, we’ll discover we actually are.


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