Impact story: Be embedded in the community you serve

Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company was set up early in 2014 to help this small rural brewery town in Yorkshire to carry out regeneration projects. Over Christmas 2015 the community was severely affected by flooding and this social enterprise took a lead role to speak with the community, understand their needs and help re-build for the future.

Have your ears to the ground

Although the CIC has just one member of staff and six trustees, it has many volunteers, and is ‘embedded’ in the community: attending every town council meeting, carrying out online surveys regularly, using the community Facebook page and running the local Tadcaster Today newspaper. This meant that when Covid-19 hit, they were already in a position to know and respond to community needs. The Barn – their community centre – became a hub for the community and they were quickly able to provide a Summer Club for young people so that parents could continue to work. They remained open for seven weeks, teaching everything from Spanish to photography, from keep-fit to crafts. They knew there was a need for the Summer Club, which became fully subscribed, with many parents grateful or directly involved as volunteers.

They struggled with funding initially, but a small grant from the local council encouraged them to get going, and they eventually received National Lottery money.

Evaluation approach

Their approach to evaluation is influenced by the founder’s previous organisational experience and the requirements of funders but is often quite pragmatic and not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It is mainly anecdotal and often opportunistic, taking note of successes such as getting media attention – for example, the attendance of the Archbishop of York at the Bridge re-opening event in February 2017 after the flooding, and the number of articles that subsequently appeared in local and regional newspapers.

Tadcaster and Rural CIC knows the extent to which its work makes a difference, and what works well and not so well, because members of the community have regular and ongoing opportunities to voice their views and are always encouraged to do so, in a critical but friendly way.

If you are thinking of doing something similar we suggest you:

  1. Find out how Azuko and Southampton Hub empower their communities to get involved in data collection.
  2. Plan how you are going to involve users in your impact practice. Use our quick exercise for deciding how to involve users.
  3. Think about creative methods for allowing users to collect data within the communities you work in. Read more about creative methods here.

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