North and South London Cares. Evaluation and development through the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund
This report presents the findings from research and impact measurement of key projects undertaken by the North London Cares and South London Cares, demonstrating how the charities meet their core objectives of reducing isolation and loneliness amongst older people (and young professionals alike); improving the wellbeing, skills, resilience and connection of all participants; and bridging social and generational divides. The main projects comprise: Love Your Neighbour, supporting one-to-one friendships across social and generational divides; Social Clubs, aimed at older people who can still get out of the house, and want to interact with other older neighbours as well as local young people; Winter Wellbeing, a pro-active outreach effort that helps older neighbours to stay warm, active, healthy and connected during the most isolating time of year; and Community Fundraising, involving volunteers in major community fundraising effort through a ‘networked approach’. Drawing from the responses to a survey of new members (and follow up surveys), the report shows that there were little change for the scores for wellbeing for those who answered all surveys, except for an increase in anxiety. When looking at all responses, regardless of whether they stayed in contact for 12 months, the happiness score appears to be increasing, suggesting that some of those who were least happy dropped out of the survey. In the loneliness questions there was a decrease in the computed social loneliness score (questions about other people), but an increase in the emotional loneliness (questions about their sense of loneliness). The report also develops a new theory of change for the organisation, and sets out how to go about measuring impact against theory. The theory is based on five outcomes, which apply equally to both volunteers and older neighbours, and include: reducing isolation, improving wellbeing, increasing the feeling of belonging in the local community, living richer lives, and building bridges across social and generational divides.