Monitoring: it all adds up

Time to Shine has ambitious targets to achieve by 2021 and I rely on monitoring information submitted by all delivery partners every quarter to help me chart the progress towards these targets. Delivery partners, past and present, are a wonderfully conscientious bunch; I rarely have to prompt partners for information which makes it much easier to meet the National Lottery Community Fund’s regular reporting deadlines. Time to Shine takes a ‘test and learn’ approach to find out what works (and what doesn’t work!) and partners are keen to share photos, inspiring case studies, quotes and insightful snippets of knowledge. This definitely brings projects to life and contributes greatly to the overall learning and legacy of Time to Shine.

Research is a another really important element of Time to Shine and most delivery partners are required to collect information using ‘before and after’ evaluation questionnaires from the older people they work with. After the data has been entered into a secure online system, partners have access to anonymised graphs to help them see the difference that their work makes on the lives of the people involved in their projects. This data is gold dust to us; it’s vital in helping the programme (and the National Lottery Community Fund) to see how Time to Shine projects in Leeds affect people’s wellbeing, community involvement, social life and feelings of loneliness. This hard evidence, collected in 14 areas across England (including Leeds) helps to shape local and national policy, services and funding priorities so that thousands of older people could benefit in the future.

Delivery partners, past and present, have done a brilliant job in encouraging people to get involved in this research. So far over 1,300 older people have completed at least one of these questionnaires and partners are now working hard to collect the next round of information so that the impact can be measured. Time to Shine projects are already making a huge difference - around 40% of older people who have already completed at least 2 questionnaires report that they are feeling less lonely and around 60% have improved wellbeing.

The programme has been going for four years and we have another two years left. By 2021 we aim to have worked with 15,000 people in total (including 10,000 older people who are experiencing, or at risk of, social isolation). We also aim to involve 1,000 older volunteers in the design, delivery, management or evaluation of Time to Shine. Since April 2015 the programme has already worked with 13,000 people (including 6,000 experiencing or at risk of social isolation) and just under 1,000 volunteers - so we’re well on track for 2021.

Numbers are important of course, but it’s often the narrative provided by delivery partners that really helps us to understand the value of Time to Shine and the impact on older people involved in the programme. Regular monitoring deadlines and a requirement to write up (and share) learning each quarter means that important information doesn’t get lost when other tasks take priority.

During the last monitoring round one volunteer, Graham, summed up perfectly his feelings about Float Your Boat, the project he’s involved in.

“…So, I guess this past year's experiences have given me the wake-up call I never knew I needed. One thing’s for sure, it certainly put a smile back on my face and I enjoy waking up every day”.

Read Graham's story in full.

I’d like to thank all the staff, volunteers and participants who regularly share information with me. You’re making a valuable contribution to both the immediate impact on people's lives and to the long term legacy of Time to Shine.

Lisa Fearn
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Time to Shine

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