Ayrshire 3 year evaluation: most important finding is significant increase in mental health and wellbeing.
In 2014, the NHS Endowment Fund provided funding for an Asset Based Community Development project in Ayrshire exploring how peoples’ assets and skills can be supported to develop solutions to community problems. With some funding from The Scottish Government to support evaluation, since 2014, the Social Marketing Gateway (SMG) has followed and evaluated the ABCD project in Ayrshire, mainly North and South Ayrshire. Focus has been on Fullarton, Harbourside and Castlepark, and in South Ayrshire on Lochside, Wallacetoun, Dalmilling and Craigie.
Across seven communities a team of locally-based Community Builders have been active, connecting local people and supporting them to share their skills and talents to improve their local communities hoping that, by increasing social connectedness in this way, mental health and wellbeing of the local population will improve.
The May 2018 report to NHS Ayrshire and Arran reported:
“The significant increase in mental health and wellbeing in North Ayr is perhaps the most important finding of the evaluation. This has been the core goal of the project since the outset. Coupled with this finding from the household survey, the personal stories of residents who have benefited from being connected up with local activities illuminate ‘how’ the health of individuals is being improved, e.g. fewer visits to the GP; stopping prescription drugs; and being ‘signed off’ by clinical specialists.”
“reduction in medication”:
“I’ve been on anti-depressants since my husband died, but I’m actually on one less now and I feel a lot better. I attribute the reduction in medication to both the support I’m getting from the bereavement group, and from how the CB’s involvement in things has taken the pressure off me. I think she’s doing a brilliant job and I feel a lot better.”
“I’m helping people, but at the same time they’re helping me. The key is that this is purposeful”:
“There’s been a huge impact for me because last week my CPN (community mental health nurse) and my carer signed me off because they feel I’ve come on so much since doing this. Before this I had hit a wall and there was nothing to motivate me – I had no reason to get up in the morning. It’s a massive deal for me to be signed off by both of them because it makes me feel like I’m more in control of things – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now, whereas this time last year I was thinking ‘Which bridge will I jump off?’ – seriously. I’ve even got friends coming up saying to me ‘I can’t believe the difference in you’ and ‘we’re so pleased you go into this’. I’m quite happy to sit in the house in my jammies all day every day – got my dogs, cats and my son (who’s special needs, so can be quite hard-going) who can run out and buy me chocolate. But this has been something to take me out of my life. I’m helping people, but at the same time they’re helping me. The key is that this is purposeful – it’s all very well people saying ‘you need to get out more and do stuff’ but when you’re absolutely down low you need the draw of purpose.”
Read the full report:
Building Community: An evaluation of asset based community development (ABCD) in Ayrshire
Final Report to NHS Ayrshire and Arran