How do communities reflect on whether they have made a difference to wellbeing and how should they be supported to do so?

Contact: Project Funder – Pembrokeshire Regional Integration Fund


Together for Change (TfC) has received a grant, from the Regional Integration Fund (Pembrokeshire RIF), to put in place systems and support that will strengthen the evidence base of action centring on the wellbeing of communities of place, defined here as communities of geography. The work will be taken forward by a RIF funded post in the Together for Change Team, with a focus on Pembrokeshire and extending to the counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. 

There is an increasing amount of interest in the evidence base of wellbeing in this setting: what the needs are and how we can work collaboratively. The strategies of Pembrokeshire partnerships highlight the importance of research and evaluation and there has been a growing investment in the county in generating and using evidence.   

Elsewhere in Wales, e.g. SPARK, Cardiff University, is undertaking an enquiry into how it can build a partnership to support communities in research, by matching skills to needs. Swansea University’s research project on ‘Pride in Communities’ will be used to inform the University’s strategy on community links. WelshGovernment has invested in research centres of excellence in social care, and Developing Evidence Enriched Practice (DEEP) has received a third phase of funding. Social Care Wales is building an infrastructure to support research and evaluation, and knowledge transfer and is supporting the Resourceful Communities Partnership which runs learning events.  

The present research project was designed to inform developments in Pembrokeshire, and the wider region, and to provide useful data for sharing across Wales for a collaborative approach to infrastructure development. 

Phase 1 – Shaping the Research Project (March 2023)

Three meetings were held by TfC, in March 2023, with people drawn from policy, research, and community development support and practice, to scope the research project. These meetings highlighted the complex nature of community action and the differences in the expectations for organisations in the type of evidence that should be generated by, and with, communities. 

As a result of those meetings it was decided to focus on community projects themselves to better understand what they were aiming to do, how they reflected on their practice and what their support needs might be to build capacity and capability in research and evaluation.

Phase 2 – Research on Community Action (April – October 2023)

Twenty Community projects and organisations from the three counties were sampled using Info-engine. The criteria for selection were: 

  • in existence for at least two years
  • place based
  • engaged in any of the determinants of wellbeing

The Chief Officers of the three Community Voluntary Councils  were contacted to discuss the sample to ensure maximum variation in the research and evaluation activities. Researchers are interviewing personnel from the projects using a semi structured interview schedule, which seeks to explore:

  • The aims of the participating projects and how they are seeking to make a difference to wellbeing.
  • The barriers and enablers to achieving change.
  • Whether the projects are making a difference and how they know whether they are.
  • What their expressed support needs are, in building capacity and capability in research and evaluation.

Timescales – 2023 

March: Stakeholder meetings                               
April: Develop and pilot tools                                      
May – September: Data collection and analysis 
October: Reporting and start of implementation and dissemination


Other Project Work by Together for Change