In early 2014, Hilary was commissioned by TimeBank, the national volunteering charity,
to evaluate TimeBank’s innovative volunteer-led 18 month English Language training project, Talking Together, funded by the Department
for Communities and Local Government.
The programme was designed to tackle the problem of residents who cannot speak English, particularly in Pakistani,
Bangladeshi and Somali communities. The programme was to recruit and train volunteers to offer informal functional English
language training and mentoring. Talking Together worked
in partnership with local community organisations, predominantly rooted in minority communities, enabling it to reach ‘hard
to reach’ groups.
The evaluation task was to
establish the success, challenges and social return on investment of the programme.
The evaluation involved both formative evaluation to support a vibrant
learning process, and summative evaluation to capture the achievements of the programme. A theory of change was developed
in conjunction with the programme. The formative evaluation informed design and development in the programme including
changing numbers of participants, and enable access, including crèche provision, changes in patterns of delivery, developing
the mentoring offer to learners, re-evaluating learning materials, investing in additional training for volunteer tutors,
and application of social franchising model, including sharpen criteria for choosing delivery partners.
programme exceeded its targets and by the end of the project, had recruited 144 volunteers and supported 1,575 local residents,
and came in under budget. The summative evaluation assessed outputs and outcomes, including competence, confidence and
aspirations, and the benefits for volunteer tutors, including as a pathway to training and employment. The summative evaluation
included a Social Return on Investment (SROI) exercise that showed a return of £9.31 for every £1 invested.
The summative evaluation also included developing case studies for learners and volunteer tutors. The report commended
the Talking Together model as efficient and cost effective approach to supporting pre ESOL learners and aiding their integration
into British society
Full copies of the evaluation report can be accessed at http://timebank.org.uk/talking-together/external-evaluation
key areas that we benefitted from by appointing Hilary at the outset were on-going learning and an ability to make changes
as we moved through the project. Having an external voice with us throughout the project enabled that key learning to be incorporated
in delivery rather than simply be in the report at the end.
"My own direct involvement came at the launch of the evaluation in the House of Commons. We had brought together
a guest list of key TimeBank stakeholders, funders, politicians, delivery partners and volunteers and a presentation that
gave a succinct clear overview of the outcomes of the project was vital in order to hold their attention and ensure they left
understanding the extensive achievements of the project. Hilary fulfilled this admirably, happily working with me to ensure
our messages complemented one another, flowed seamlessly and weren’t repetitious. I would certainly recommend Hilary
following his comprehensive, impartial and systematic evaluation of our Talking Together project.”
Helen Walker, Chief Executive, TimeBank