The environment and beyond...

The environmental sector is perhaps one of our most diverse. Our work in this sector can cover a range of topics from energy consumption and littering, through to technology.

 

In 2018 we were lucky enough to work on a variety of projects evaluating their outcomes and effectiveness. One of which was an evaluation of the British Gas Energy Trust Healthy Homes programme. The Healthy Homes Fund was formed after the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) received £11.1million funding from British Gas in 2015 and it focused on addressing health problems exacerbated by fuel poverty.

The Healthy Homes Fund was spread across 43 charities and other third sector organisations across Great Britain. To support BGET in measuring the impact of the Healthy Homes Fund programme, M·E·L Research was commissioned to undertake a programme-wide evaluation. Our evaluation included a process and summative assessment of the overall programme, which included a summary review of the outcomes of each of the 43 projects. We adopted a mixed methods approach, ranging from a review of project proposals and quarterly report submissions, quantitative surveys to qualitative in-depth interviews with project leads and stakeholders.

Across the 43 projects, around 180,000 activities and services were delivered and the delivery of the overall programme was broadly successful with valuable learning points identified for future activity. There were some positive unintended consequences that benefited the projects, such as the development of partnerships and collaborative working, the demand for holistic services due to the higher than anticipated levels of fuel poverty and the commissioning or inclusion of interventions into current health services provision.

From energy to technology, our next project saw us working on Groundwork West Midlands #FinancialChampions evaluation which aimed to help reduce social isolation in the older generation through the use of digital tools and technology, with participants becoming more financially capable.

The #FinancialChampions programme was delivered in 2017 in targeted areas of Birmingham and was delivered in two main ways: 

  • Residents trained up as Financial Champions to provide a peer to peer mentoring model to a wider network of residents.
  • A wider network of older residents took part in workshops, which focused on improving digital and financial capability.

To support Groundwork in measuring how successful the #FinancialChampions programme was, M·E·L Research was commissioned to carry out an evaluation which included a process and outcome assessment of the programme. The aim of the programme was to address two research key questions:

  • How can digital/social inclusion projects help older people become more financially capable?
  • How effective can a peer mentoring or ‘champions’ model help to cascade financial capability information in an appropriate way to the target group?

The evaluation used a mix of approaches, including both qualitative (focus groups, in-depth interviews and observation research) and quantitative (surveys).

A theory of change model was developed for the evaluation, using the Financial Capability Outcomes Framework to identify key indicators to measure changes as a result of the programme. This added to the evidence base for similar projects, by identifying what outcomes were achieved and providing a set of recommendations and learning for the future.  To find out more about this project, view the final report here.

Our work in the environmental sector aligns with various elements of the global sustainability goals which the UK government is firmly committed to delivering, both at home and internationally. A full report on these goals can be found here.

For more information on M·E·L Research’s environmental work or to talk to us about a project of your own, click here.

MRS Evidence Matters