Do we really make a difference in the community?
In a time when our society feels so divided, Near Neighbours is trying to bring people together. We aim to build relationships across ethnic and religious divides, challenge negative stereotypes, encourage collaboration, and motivate people to do more social action in their communities.
Are we succeeding? Are we achieving these aims in communities? If so, to what extent?
To answer those questions, we commissioned an evaluation. We wanted to get an outside, critical perspective on how well Near Neighbours is meeting its aims.
We worked with an organisation called brap, who have significant expertise in equalities and integration. They put together a framework to assess the long-term impact of Near Neighbours, involving people who have participated in our programmes since we started in 2011.
brap looked in depth at our small grants programme and leadership development work. They used a combination of quantitative approaches (e.g. surveys of people who have received small grants since 2011) and qualitative approaches (e.g. interviews of people who have participated in our leadership development work) to explore what difference Near Neighbours has made on people and their neighbourhoods.
What did they find?
brap found strong evidence that Near Neighbours is:
Building and sustaining relationships: 75% of small grant leads reported that their participants have continued to meet and socialise with someone from a different faith.
Challenging stereotypes: 81% of small grant leads agreed that ‘involvement with Near Neighbours has made me more confident challenging intolerant or prejudiced views within my community’.
Increasing collaboration: 88% of small grant leads will be or are working with different faith and/or ethnic groups as a result of their involvement with Near Neighbours.
Building people’s capacity to make a difference: 75% of leadership development participants feel they are better able to work with marginalised groups as a result of their involvement with Near Neighbours.
These numbers, and the stories behind them, demonstrate that Near Neighbours is making a real difference in the communities where we work.
Jessamin Birdsall is research and Evaluation Manager at Church Urban Fund.