Final Evaluation: Building Livelihoods and Strengthening Communities in Wales project | Social Exclusion | Mentorship

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The Building Livelihoods and Strengthening Communities in Wales project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Unilever and Oxfam, and was delivered by nine local partner organisations in communities across Wales between 2012 and 2016. The project piloted the use of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach in working with different groups experiencing poverty and marginalisation and was able to demonstrate a social return on investment of £4.43 for every £1. The external evaluation report presents findings from the independent evaluation undertaken by Arad Research. It outlines the general achievements of the project over its lifetime, and provides detailed statistics relating to the project's outputs and outcomes, as well as extensive qualitative feedback from participants and project workers outlining its methods, successes, challenges and learning points, concluding with practice and policy recommendations arising from the project. An executive summary is also available. The value analysis report, authored by Dr Leon Quinn (Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator), assesses the project in respect to the amount of value it has generated, or will generate, as a result of the activities it pursued during its lifetime. 
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   v     Building Livelihoods & Strengthening Communities in Wales External Evaluation  April 2016  Arad Research www.aradresearch.com    2 Contents Contents ...................................................................................................................2   Executive Summary ................................................................................................3   1.   Introduction ..................................................................................................... 10   2.   Design and Delivery ........................................................................................ 12  2.1 Project Initiation ................................................................................................... 12 2.2 Overview of the constituent partner projects ........................................................ 16 3.   Findings: Operation and delivery .................................................................. 23  3.1 Activities and support provided ............................................................................ 23 3.2 Numbers engaged ............................................................................................... 28 3.3 Success factors ................................................................................................... 28 4.   Impact .............................................................................................................. 34  4.1 Intended Outcomes ............................................................................................. 34 4.2 Project Outcome 1: Marginalised people will develop skills and build confidence to improve their livelihoods and life chances. ..................................................................... 34 4.3 Project Outcome 2: Marginalised people from different backgrounds will be more involved in community activities. .................................................................................... 36 4.4 Project Outcome 3: Community groups will have a better understanding of the needs of different people and groups in their neighbourhoods and how to meet them. .. 37 4.5 Project Outcome 4: Marginalised people will say that they receive more and better services that meet their needs. ...................................................................................... 38 5.   Conclusions .................................................................................................... 39  5.1 Summary of findings............................................................................................ 39 5.2 Recommendations .............................................................................................. 40 Annex 1: Methodology .......................................................................................... 42    3 Executive Summary This is a summary of the evaluation undertaken by Arad Research which includes key lessons, recommendations for others doing similar work, and policy recommendations for service providers and decision makers. PROJECT OVERVIEW The Building Livelihoods and Strengthening Communities in Wales Project (hereafter the Livelihoods Project) has worked with marginalised people and communities across Wales, using Oxfam‟s Sustainable Livelihoods Approach to help individuals and families maximise their assets and abilities in order to tackle poverty. Oxfam Cymru, supported by the Big Lottery Fund (Wales) and Unilever, co-ordinated the three year project between September 2012 and February 2016, working with the following partner organisations: African Community Centre , Swansea  (refugees and asylum-seekers); Caia Park Partnership, Wrexham  (people with physical and/or learning disabilities); Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council & The Foryd Centre, Rhyl  (older people aged 50+); DOVE Workshop, Banwen, Neath  (geographically isolated and long-term unemployed people); Duffryn Community Link, Newport  (young families, single parents and those with mental or physical health issues); Glyncoch Community Regeneration, Pontypridd  (families with primary school-age children); South Riverside Community Development Centre, Cardiff   (people from black and minority ethnic [BME] communities); Sylfaen Cymunedol Cyfyngedig, Caernarfon  (young people not in education, employment or training [NEETs The Wallich Clifford Community, Ebbw Vale  (people homeless or at risk of homelessness). THE SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS APPROACH  The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) is a participatory approach focusing on people‟s lives as a whole. Complementing the approach is a variety of practical tools to support its implementation. The SLA identifies peop le‟s abilities and strengths by dividing an individual‟s assets into five areas:   Human assets  Education & skills, health Social assets Family, friends, neighbours, groups Public assets  Local services, facilities and amenities Financial assets  Wages, benefits, loans Physical assets  Housing, vehicles, work equipment  4 “People are like a ball of wool, lots of different strands –  money, housing, social life. It is important to not talk but listen to their story, like pulling out the strands and finding where the main problem is.”   Project worker PROJECT ACTIVITIES AND OUTPUTS Over 1,000 beneficiaries participated  in the Livelihoods Project in total (Table 1 presents some of the project‟s achievements). Table 1: Key targets and achievements of the Livelihoods Project Project activity/ outcome Target Number achieved Beneficiaries receiving intensive support 527 494 Beneficiaries receiving other support 345 629 Beneficiaries reporting new skills and confidence 1091 636 Beneficiaries more involved in community activities 344 648 Beneficiaries accessing more/better services 460 489 Beneficiaries who have measurably improved their livelihood 575 306 Peer mentors trained 114 109 Beneficiaries gaining paid employment n/a 94 Project activities delivered included the following: One-to-one support and guidance  was provided by all partner organisations, with the SLA tools used as a starting point with participants. This involved working with individuals holistically as project workers assisted participants in taking control of their lives. By its nature this one-to-one support involved as many hours of intensive support for the individual participants as necessary, however and whenever that support was needed. “With other agencies you are  just a number, part of a system; with Livelihoods the relationship has time to develop.”   Project participant Peer mentoring  courses were available for participants from all partner organisations to provide them with the skills to enable them to support others within the project and in the wider community. The training was delivered as a pan-Wales group, providing opportunities for peer mentors to develop a network with others which they found valuable. The confidence participants developed as a result of the peer mentoring training resulted in them not only mentoring others but also organising and running activities for the project and strengthening the links between the partner organisations and their community.
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