Resources: What has been done before?

Here are some examples of projects where FBOs have been involved in projects to improve the health of their communities. Evidence has been collected from these projects to show the difference they are making. We have included them to show the kinds of project it is possible to run with FBOs, and the kinds of data it is possible to collect.

Social Cooking Project 2011-2013

The Social Cooking Project was run in a Sikh gurdwara and a Hindu mandir, in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It aimed to lower the saturated fat and salt intakes of South Asian families attending the places of worship, to reduce levels of cardiovascular disease in the communities. Over two years, dieticians from BHF worked with the cooks at the places of worship, supporting them to prepare food that was lower in fat and salt but still tasty. They also worked with those attending the places of worship to encourage them to donate healthier food.

To evaluate the project, a nutritional analysis was undertaken of the food at three different time points. This found a 50% reduction in saturated fat and up to 40% reduction in salt. It was estimated that this could result in a 2% reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease and a 6% reduction in deaths from diabetes. Research with the diners was also conducted to see whether there was an impact on the taste of the food: this found no negative effect.

VIP Mentoring: LifeLine Projects

LifeLine Projects employed an evaluator to assess its Vision, Identity, Purpose (VIP) mentoring programme. LifeLine Projects employs mentors to support young people in secondary schools who are at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

The evaluation used the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), through an online survey, to assess changes in the young people’s wellbeing over time. The young people completed the survey at the start of the project and again at two later points. Focus groups were run with some of the young people, as well as interviews with school and mentoring project staff; data from the schools on student behaviour and attendance was also collected.

The data showed significant improvements in the young people’s wellbeing over the course of the programme. The qualitative data shed light on why this might be: for example, having a mentor gave the young person a trusted adult to talk to, and mentors were able to act as mediators between the schools and the young people, ensuring that any issues could be dealt with effectively.

Ramadan Education and Awareness in Diabetes (READ) programme

This project ran a 2-hour session for Muslims who had Type 2 diabetes and were fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, educating them in how to manage their diabetes while fasting. The study consisted of 111 patients, 57 of whom attended the session and 54 who did not (these formed the control group). All patients were followed up by their GP. The results found that those who attended the session lost weight after Ramadan and had fewer incidences of hypoglycaemia. Twelve months on, those who attended the session still had better results than those who did not.

A summary of the academic evaluation:

Cinnamon Faith Action Audits

In 2015 the Cinnamon Network undertook a survey of local faith-based social action across the UK. By collecting data from faith groups it was able to estimate the size of the contribution that the faith sector makes to UK society. An online survey was completed by 2,110 faith groups, with 57 ‘Local Champion’ volunteers working in their local areas to invite groups to take part.

The survey found the types of activity being undertaken included: healthcare; accommodation; fitness activity; befriending; foodbanks; and services for people with disabilities. Over 200 groups were working in partnership with NHS services, and over 100 with GPs. Each year, on average, each faith group contributed to their local community:

  • 8 social action projects
  • Support for 1,656 beneficiaries
  • 4 paid staff and 3,319 paid staff hours
  • 66 volunteers and 9,988 volunteer hours
  • £111,311 worth of support*

Cinnamon estimates that there are 60,761 faith groups in the UK. If 47.5% of them (the same percentage of faith groups questioned who responded to the survey) deliver what the average group to answer the survey does, this would mean that collectively the faith sector supports 47,823,751 beneficiaries annually and contributes £3 billion worth of support.

* Paid staff hours, plus volunteer hours calculated using the living wage of £7.85, plus management

Community events in a country park

A Rocha UK is a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world. It produced an evaluation for a funder of its programme of community events in a country park. Feedback was collected through questionnaires, event feedback forms, photos, observation and informal discussion with participants. It collected information on particpants’ age, ward of residence, ethnic background and religious affiliation.

From the feedback questions asked, the charity was able to show that: 90% of the participants met someone new at the events; over 99% of those who had participated in outdoor activities said that they felt “uplifted” walking around the park and learning about the nature; and over 85% said they learned new skills (e.g. kite making, food foraging). The charity was also able to learn lessons for the future, for example that leafleting door-to-door is the best way to reach people, and that events for families are best run in school holidays.

Cardiovascular disease screening project with the Hindu community

An initiative between the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, H.E.A.R.T. UK and two Hindu temples in the London borough of Brent provided screening in the temples for cardiovascular disease risk factors. The project involved members of the faith community who were also medical professionals, as well as other professional staff and interpreters from the community. Screening events were advertised in the temples and on their websites, and participants attended an appointment for screening and health advice. A total of 434 participants were screened. These were people who had not been tested elsewhere, and 92% were found to have at least one risk factor which could be addressed by changing their behaviour.

A summary of the academic evaluation:

Housing Justice Church and Community Night Shelter Network Impact Report

Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action to prevent homelessness and bad housing, encouraging church responses to housing need. It supports night shelters, drop-ins and other practical projects by providing advice and training for churches and other community groups who work with homeless people.

Its 2014-15 impact report aims to capture the impact of Church and Community Night Shelter projects (CCNS) in England and Wales. Housing Justice worked with Get the Data, which specialises in social impact analytics, to design tools to gather data, and to work with shelter coordinators and volunteers to use the tools. They found that in the network of CCNSs linked with Housing Justice:

  • Around 500 churches, church halls, synagogues and mosques opened their premises for use as night shelters between October 2014 and May 2015
  • 2,171 guests were accommodated
  • An estimated 231,000 volunteer hours were given, valued at over £3m*
  • 39% of the guests received assistance to make a positive move on from the shelter into their own accommodation

* Valued at £13.20 an hour, calculated based on the median weekly wage in England