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The evaluation of social policy programmes

CUCR has since 1994 combined a commitment to scholarly investigation of contemporary urbanism with practical engagement with stakeholders and policy makers in the contemporary city.

This has led to one strand of our research that focuses on the evaluation of a wide range of contemporary social policy programmes that relate to the changing nature of city life. We have been responsible for the evaluation of a wide range of City Challenge and SRB regeneration programmes, the major evaluation of a Health Action Zone and numerous smaller scale interventions involving community participation, youth and community work, Surestart and processes of neighbourhood renewal. Specifically, we have a particular experience of addressing the problems of social policy evaluations as researchers, consultants and practitioners. Some examples (but not an exhaustive list) of this work includes the following projects:

  • Deptford City Challenge Evaluation 1992-1998: The largest evaluation of any of the evaluations of the City Challenge national regeneration programme.

  • SRB evaluations: The Centre completed evaluations of Single Regeneration Projects throughout the 1990s in Hackney, Newham, Greenwich, Bexley, Lewisham and Southwark.

  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Reflecting Realities 1995-97: Using participatory and visual methods CUCR developed work for JRF auditing the participation in regeneration programmes nationally, developing audit tools for evaluation and considering the nature of community participation in city transformations. The work also considered the possibilities of developing evaluation models by learning from experiences in the developing 'south'.

  • Framework for Neighbourhood Renewal in Lewisham: working with cross-sectoral NRF projects CUCR developed bespoke self-evaluation frameworks for each project. The Centre went on to work with the borough (the accountable body) in developing indicator measurement for evaluation of neighbourhood renewal.

  • NX Project: CUCR supported the community research organisation Magpie to develop an innovative local research and outreach project to write the Get Set for Citizenship SRB bid.

  • Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Action Zone: working with one (and subsequently two) health authorities CUCR considered the introduction of the reform agenda in the Health Service.

  • Local Knowledge for Local Solutions (LK4LS): working with Magpie and Gap Research to CUCR developed toolkits and training package for action research. This involved the training of residents of deprived communities as researchers.

  • Evaluation of West Peckham Sure Start: used LK4LS toolkit CUCR trained mothers to evaluate part of the programme.

  • KnowledgeEast Creative Impact project: development of indicator matrix and Evaluation Toolkit and arts practitioner/regenerator 'translation guide' for assessing impact of creative (and especially performing arts) social regeneration projects. The work was developed through an advisory group of academics and non-academics. A 'practitioner edit' of the toolkit, funded by HEFCE Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) knowledge exchange programme was developed. An on-line version of this work is in production.

  • Positive Futures: Working with Dr Tim Crabbe at Sheffield Hallam, CUCR has been involved in drawing up a new Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for national Positive Futures programme, originally based at the Home Office.

  • Southwark Advocacy and Research Project: Working for a local authority CUCR has been involved in the development of a 'Neighbourhood Evaluation Tool', a qualitative diagnostic tool for assessing 'hard to reach' residents' service needs and experience of service provision. This involved training local residents, as 'Community Champions' to use the tool door-to-door in areas of extreme social exclusion.

  • Beyond the Numbers Game: An evaluation project within national ESF-funded Hi8us/NESTA youth media programme Inclusion Through Media, to develop Toolkit for evaluating youth media interventions, including development of on-line version with Hi8us Midlands.

  • Active Learning for Active Citizenship (ALAC: the Centre has been responsible for the formal evaluation of the Home Office (and now the Department for Communities and Local Government) ALAC, and has thus been engaged directly in debates concerning the nature of civic renewal.

  • Direct involvement in policy making and commissioning evaluation: As a chair of a Local Strategic Partnership and through civic engagement one member of the CUCR team (Keith) has commissioned and chaired formal evaluations as client and also advised the Department of Communities and Local Government on local government reform, housing policy and policy development around sustainable communities (ministerial sounding boards).

For more details or inquiries about possible work around social policy evaluation, please contact Professor Michael Keith either through the Centre's main switchboard (0207-919-7390) or by e-mailing m.keith (@gold.ac.uk).