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Well London: The Big Tea- Evaluation Strategy

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A participatory action research approach of evaluating projects set to improve wellbeing

All of the projects within The Big tea were developed with reference to several key documents to underpin the epistemological framework:
• Measuring Well Being in Lambeth: A Handbook (NEF)
• 5 steps to wellbeing (NEF)
• Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment
• Various Positive Psychology theories and interventions such as: Strengths building, subjective wellbeing, mindfulness, resilience
• Transactional Model of change (Prochaska)

We aimed to engage with social practice through change and understanding from the consequences of change. The projects were based on authentic participation, which involved a continuing spiral of planning, acting, observing, reflecting, re-planning and so on. The projects were collaborative, with a large participating group.

The evaluation tried to collect data on ‘what is happening’ (based on Kirkpatrick’s Instant reactions), reflect, and then build more defined plans of action (Learning). It aimed to measure key protective factors to wellbeing that underpinned each project, identified through our epistemological framework. We modified Fordyce’s Emotions Scale and other tools to capture the data, as well as creating dynamic and active participatory methods.

The following are examples of the key factors we identified important to our project. Each project was developed with one or more in mind, and rated after it was run, to assess its impact, alongside WL and our own data collection system:

Ease of access to services, access to green spaces and shared public facilities, feeling safe, accessible and acceptable goods and services, having a valued role, cost, social contact, positive identities, trust others, feeling involved, sense of belonging, tackling inequalities, accepting and being accepted, bringing people together, opportunities for self help, having your say, being heard, skills and attributes, opportunities to influence decisions, knowledge and ability to make healthy choices, sense of control, social networks, contacts with others, arts and creativity, learning and development, spirituality, problem solving, emotional wellbeing, inclusion, challenging stigma, chose own direction, focus and be absorbed, confidence, share, be proud, strengths, being aware, give, talents, active, self- esteem, volunteering.

Addressing wellbeing especially through social approaches and positive psychology; such as participation in community projects as highlighted in the New Horizons document. Develop effective educational and participative approaches to this issue.

Aims and objectives
To explore the way s in which people can learn and improve on aspects of their wellbeing such as personal functioning, that can be assessed through a simple set of standard and visual evaluation tools.

Participants were engaged through the project in a series of participatory workshops and discussion (Action and reflecting). The evaluation focused on using stimuli such as narrative building games, photography, focusing on: how they felt before and after attending the project, their understanding and awareness of well being and their happiness levels.

Using insight gained from these discussions and exercises the programme considered this in the development of further projects to help people adopt a ‘healthier’ and better informed approach to their well being.

Method and process
Mixed method study involving a large number of participants engaged in sessional group projects and discussions. Pre and post-visual questionnaires, standard data questionnaires, semi- structured interviews. The WL Questionnaire was modified to create a visual and participative approach. Each question was ‘translated’ into a creative exercise: Drama, visual etc see below. 

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