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The effectiveness of place-based programmes and campaigns in improving outcomes for children

Added 22 Apr 2022 | Updated 20 Jul 22

The National Literacy Trust has been developing place-based solutions to low literacy for more than 20 years.

This literature review considers the effectiveness of place-based working in improving outcomes for children and families by analysing the impact of place-based programmes and locally driven behaviour change campaigns, both across the UK and internationally.

Key findings:

  • Place-based initiatives aim to achieve change by bringing cross-sector organisations together to address the underlying causes of complex social problems in a more holistic and joined-up way
  • Many initiatives try to tackle long-standing disparities in housing, employment, education and health by tailoring programmes to specific groups and combining the insights, knowledge and key strengths of multiple organisations to address diverse and interconnected challenges in local areas
  • Place-based initiatives have been effective in:
    • Engaging disadvantaged people in programmes and services by creating new services and activities, raising awareness of existing services, tailoring activities to specific groups and ensuring services meet parents’ needs in a more joined-up way
    • Building supportive communities by ensuring parents have positive personal support networks, including peer support from people with lived experience of social issues
    • Building an infrastructure and creating the conditions for impact by developing leadership and organisational capacity, leveraging new resources, improving holistic partnership working, and building a community’s capacity to respond to challenges
  • Although there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to implementing place-based initiatives, the research reviewed in this literature suggests there are a number of key features of place-based programmes and campaigns that have proved to be effective:
    • Shared vision and evaluation framework: defining goals and identifying desired outcomes
    • Clear and consistent message: being clear about expectations, assumptions and interests, and having a consistent message
    • Clearly defined roles: being clear about responsibilities, co-ordinating activities and developing shared values
    • Use of data to understand the local area: developing an understanding of neighbourhood context, analysing data and sharing key learning
    • Use of local assets: focusing on the strengths of a local area and how to maximise these, and selecting the right partners
    • Realistic ambitions: managing expectations of partners and creating ambitious goals combined with realistic strategies
    • Medium-term commitment: thinking about sustainability, transferring power to the local community and linking local activity to regional and national policy
    • Engaging communities in design and delivery: building an understanding of the problem and tailoring programmes to the needs of local communities
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