The local Impact of Empowering Places

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11 Sep, 2023
Natalie White

Natalie White

Local and Regional Partnerships Manager

If you’ve been following our blog recently you’ll know already that Power to Change’s five year place-based programme ‘Empowering Places’ has drawn to a close. Whilst in the final evaluation report we’ve sought where the connections and learnings are across the places, the programme has been very much led by the needs and interests for the individual places. If you are interested in a particular place, their approaches, and the local impact of the Empowering Places programme then you can now read more about each one in their newly updated place profiles.

Empowering Places Catalyst and Priority Place Profiles

Empowering Places Evaluation Reports

Our embedded learning partners at Renaisi have been with us for the last three years of the programme. Renaisi have taken a developmental approach to evaluating Empowering Places, producing a series of outputs which helped Power to Change and partners understand and improve the programme as we went along whilst also offering wider learning about how to work well in places and how community businesses can drive local change.

You can now browse all the evaluation outputs from Renaisi. Here is a brief round up of what you will find in each one.

Interim evaluation report

Published in August 2020 this provides the foundation for the later reports to build on. It unpacks what Empowering Places is – where it fits into Power to Change’s work, its aims and ambitions, what the programme consists of in terms of support. It also examines early indications of the impact of the programme and some of the implications of Covid.

The programme model and emerging impact

This report builds on the first interim report and draws on findings from the first iteration of the six individual place profiles published in 2021. It digs deeper into the approaches of the six ‘catalyst’ organisations, highlighting similarities and differences, including their use of resources and their adaptation to Covid.

It also looks more deeply learning gathered from the first three and half years of the programme – focusing on the emerging impacts of the programme on the catalysts, their community businesses and on local people and the wider community. It also reflects on some learnings from the programme that might have implications for other place-based funding programmes.

Enablers and barriers to delivering place-based change

This report explores the key enablers and barriers to delivering the Empowering Places programme and place-based change.  The enablers include the focus on relationships and trust, a strong peer network, the structure of the programme and its support, the delivery partners and the local context.

Barriers also consist of the local context, as well as the time and resource needed for change, the programme flexibility and its complexity, the risks to individuals and communities, and of course the Covid-19 pandemic.

Empowering Places: Change framework

Renaisi developed a working ‘change framework’ three and a half years into the programme, using data collected throughout the evaluation. The framework is two-part, comprising a high-level change framework visualisation and this narrative document, which sits behind the visualisation providing a detailed explanation of each of the elements used to make up the framework. Where the visual provides a useful communication tool, this narrative document is critical for understanding what the framework means.

Empowering Places: Impact on community businesses

Produced four and a half years into the five-year programme, this report includes an overview of the assistance that has been provided to the community businesses, a detailed case study exploring the journey of five businesses in Leicester and a summary of findings about the impact of the programme to date.

Empowering Places: Impact on the community and wider places

Also produced four and a half years into the five-year programme, this report includes an overview of the impact of the programme on the community and the wider place, and highlights what has enabled any changes.

Both these reports were published alongside a video ethnography carried out with community businesses and residents in Bradford, Hartlepool and Leicester during the summer of 2022.

Five years of Empowering Places: Evaluation report

This sixth and final programme report from programme evaluator’s Renaisi tells the overall story of Empowering Places. It explores the different ways catalysts have approached delivery and use of investment, the impact of the programme on the people and places involved and the risks and realities of investing in highly deprived communities. The report offers important lessons for funders, places and other stakeholders looking to support similar work in future.

What next?

Empowering Places may have now closed but Power to Change and our partners will continue to share insights and learning from the programme over the coming months, including the launch in Autumn 2023 of the third and final iteration of the Community Life Survey Booster and of reports on what we have learnt about innovative place-based models of business support.