As part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has created the ‘Know Your Neighbourhood’ fund (KYN). The fund invests £29 million into deprived communities to increase volunteering and reduce loneliness, over a 27-month period from January 2023 to March 2025.

Nine Community Foundations have been allocated funding to administer grants to local VCSE groups to deliver projects which aim to increase volunteering and/ or reduce loneliness.

An integral part of the KYN fund is about testing and learning what works to inform future interventions, and one of its strategic objectives is to:

“Build the evidence base to identify scalable and sustainable place-based interventions that work in increasing regular volunteering and reducing chronic loneliness, with the aim of levelling up pride in place and wellbeing in target areas.”

We are leading on the ‘impact’ evaluation for all nine areas. This involves assessing the difference the individual projects are making to the fund’s overall aims and objectives.

DCMS are particularly interested in understanding if the outcomes from projects can be directly attributed to them. Therefore, where possible, projects are evaluated to Level 3 in Nesta’s Standards of Evidence Scale: “You can demonstrate causality using a control or comparison group.”

Our work here is ongoing, and includes the following tasks:

  • Reviewing the evidence about what works to increase volunteering and reduce loneliness.
  • Designing an application and selection process to maximise opportunities to evaluate projects in a way that demonstrates causality through a Randomised Control Trial or other Quasi-Experimental design (QED).
  • Developing the evaluation framework to evaluate all funded projects.
  • Developing engagement tools, such as surveys, interview and focus group guides, observation checklists, etc to ensure projects are evaluated in a standardised way.
  • Supporting project delivery partners and Community Foundations to carry out the engagement.
  • Facilitating shared learning sessions at the local and national level.
  • Synthesising the findings of the impact evaluation for a partner evaluator to include in the programme-wide evaluation.