Brighter Berkshire Evaluation Update

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) guide for ‘Evaluating Community Projects’ (Taylor et al, 2005:2) suggests ‘evaluation is most effective when: it is a continuous process informing planning and delivery as the project develops’ (p. 2).

In this spirit, and as the authors recommend, we are collecting everything we possibly can in order to ensure everyone with an interest in the project are involved in defining the questions we want answered.

By collecting and analysing multiple sources as we progress, we will be able to learn as we progress, share information, and make changes.

So far we have captured:

  • Survey monkey responses
  • Feedback from Planning meeting 16th December 2017: Flip chart and post it notes
  • iSurvey
  • Symplur capture of #BrighterBerkshire tweets
  • Views of ‘Storify’ of planning meeting
  • Recording of Talking Heads Radio Berkshire programme
  • Richard Benyon’s blog
  • The newsletters from Alison Foster
  • Emails telling us what project, groups and events are happening in Berkshire, also offering/suggesting things
  • Webpage offers and ideas

We have started to collate existing resources:

  • Useful links, social prescribing map Bracknell Forest
  • Research into social prescribing
  • The GENIE technology/approach

Without naming individuals, we know that contributors so far include people:

  • who have experienced mental health problems and not felt able to talk about them
  • who have had mental health problems and have received help
  • with family members or friends, or other people they know who have experienced mental health problems, or who identify as carers of others
  • who work or have worked in mental health services to support others with mental health problems
  • who are worried about mental health provision in their own area
  • who think we should do more to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • who would like to connect with others interested in mental health services
  • who want to volunteer, organise events, be kept informed (and through social media) and to lead on aspects of a year of mental health

We have also had involvement with and contributions from:

  • local employers
  • local charitable organisations
  • local people running and participating in mental health and related groups • Local colleges and schools
  • local and national politicians
  • mental health professionals, public health professionals, and GPs • CCGs, Health Watch, Local Councils
  • Radio Berkshire, Andrew Peach, and the team involved with ‘Talking Heads’ Very many of those individuals and organisations have suggested or offered specific ideas, projects, events, or information.

Others have shared existing group ideas, peer support groups already in existence and organised events, training and creative opportunities, often with practical help and advice on how to access. There are too many to list here but those lists are in need of being kept, ordered, links made and data generated and analysed.

We themed the feedback from one source (planning meeting notes and post its) into the following four themes:

  • Aspirations
  • Practical ways forward
  • Project narrative – what is our story?
  • Statutory sector and cross agency approaches Aspirational ideas expressed included notions of community, working together in communities, towards a cultural shift that would see people in everyday places and activities talking about mental health.

It would be necessary to generate momentum (in the practical ways described below) and take responsibility as people who use services, care for others, and as members of communities, to work with statutory bodies, political groups and professionals, in ways that support families and volunteers, and avoid relying on or exploiting goodwill.

Places important to people includes schools, colleges, workplaces, social, leisure, sports, creative spaces, as well as the casual, familiar places we inhabit.

A receptiveness to people talking about mental health would be evidenced by mental health friendly policies and practices in formal and informal settings, and in our relationships with each other.

These would be informed by a deeper knowledge and understanding of both the negative effects of silence, stigma and exclusionary practices, and the positive power of openness, inclusiveness and an assertive approach to maintaining and promoting good mental health.

Practical ideas included formation of a steering group or committee, with dedicated roles, a series of events, aims and goals.

Specific ideas have been offered and listed, with popular ideas including

  • Safe haven cafes,
  • Work with young people and their networks,
  • More effective connectedness between helping agencies,
  • Education/training and social/leisure activities open to all.
  • Employment related issues
  • A new openness and visibility would characterise Brighter Berkshire’s A Year of Mental Health, particularly in everyday places and activities.
  • Learning from others may include connecting with other regions, mapping resources, signposting and creating resources.
  • The need for a narrative was expressed in order to help us make connections with other important societal contributors to mental ill health, to understand the importance of context, and to offer some ideas of how the future might be different.
  • A narrative that challenges the dominant tendency to locate mental health problems with individuals and families is overdue; one that offers new learning and understanding of the role played by communities and organisations as well as by individuals and those in positions of influence.
  • The importance of working with statutory partners, independent/third sector and charitable organisations was a given, however it was the perspective and insight of people with experience of ill health and of recovery/self management that enabled us to see mental health services in the most memorable ways.

Ideas for statutory agencies and cross agency work included:

  • Partnership working from funding perspective
  • One pot of money, knowing what to spend it on
  • Feedback, formal complaints
  • Impact assessments
  • Suicide prevention summit for organisations
  • Communication is key
  • Integrated stakeholders
  • List of resources to support
  • community mapping
  • Promote wellbeing
  • School and work
  • Role of media
  • Mental health strategy for Berkshire – goals and action
  • Bring in 7 commissioning bodies – Single approach to MH services and support and sharing best practice and ONE Berkshire
  • How will we work to keep momentum => focus, mixture of face to face, other partners, reward and reimburse work, goals and milestones?
  • Public health in all Berkshire unitaries to share and implement good mental health initiatives
  • Mapping services and help lines etc
  • Responsible reporting summit
  • Holding to account – beyond complaining/protesting
  • Researching the systems and shortfalls – discovering the links between eg the pressures on GP surgeries and getting urgent help –
  • Understanding how the systems, policies and political decisions we make impact on individual lives and experiences
  • Linking statistical information to experience like the point made about how abuse in childhood affects mental health throughout life
  • Men’s mental health needs and male suicide figures – why?? What is it about young men and suicide/what can Berkshire do/offer?

Next steps to be agreed:

Framework to be agreed Evaluation half day event, late Feb/ early March, using creative and social media. Joseph Rowntree Foundation report by Taylor et al (2005) is available at https://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/default/files/jrf/migrated/files/1859354157.pdf