The Bumping Space – so much more than a cuppa

Hello, I’m Susan Hampshaw and I work as a public health principal at Doncaster Council.  As part of my role I’m interested in understanding whether the projects we are delivering work and if they do how they work and in what circumstances. The Bumping Space was a response to some of the early work the team did in Denaby and we were keen to learn about it.   So, for the last few months I’ve been spending time looking at how Denaby Bumping Space is working and for whom.  You may have seen me at the Springwell Centre chatting and eating strawberries – it is hard life but someone has to do it!

Enjoying strawberries at Denaby Bumping Space

In terms of the evaluation, it was really obvious from the start that Denaby Bumping Space was working. In a short space of time over 40 people were attending each week, it grew from one day a week to three and there were so many stories of how members were reaching out and helping each other.  What we didn’t know was how – what were the magic ingredients? We realised there was little point just counting numbers. Instead we wanted to get under the skin of Denaby Bumping Space and so we used an approach to evaluation that is designed to find these ingredients.

We started the evaluation with a few hunches about how it might work. These hunches were developed by talking to people involved in delivering the service and together we came up with 5 or 6 hunches such as the importance of  offering  a cuppa (or strawberries!) as a way of drawing people in.  We then set about looking for evidence to help us test and improve this hunch. So, we spent time talking to people; reading documents and reports and analysing Twitter and Facebook as Denaby Bumping Space has an active virtual presence. Take a look at Denaby Bumping Space on Facebook here.

We found that yes, tea (and strawberries) are important but not just as a way of marketing the Bumping Space! They are important because they help to quickly develop trust and a sense of belonging – the breaking of bread together; someone else making a cuppa – really helps bring people together and is one of those magic ingredients I mentioned.   We can take this evidence about building trust into other work we do in Denaby.

Our work on this evaluation will soon be included as a case study in the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) in their Innovations report. So watch this space Denaby and its Bumping Space are going to be famous! Locally, we will continue to use this approach to evaluate other areas of Well Doncaster starting with the Enterprising Denaby and I’m looking forward to starting this work.  I’ll aim to keep everyone up to date via this blog.  Nick has also presented the evaluation findings at a regional public health event where there was lots of interest about both the approach to evaluation (we hope to publish this) and the way Well Doncaster is approaching work in the community.

Finally, on a personal note, during my time at Denaby Bumping Space I have learned lots about how to do this type of evaluation.  I also got to spend time with the many warm, welcoming and kind people of Denaby and I got to eat strawberries – not a bad way to earn a living.

Find Susan on twitter  @Hampshaw

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