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Awards for Pioneering Good Impact Practice

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014
SWF News

The South West Impact Awards 2014 recognise the work of social purpose organisations in measuring and communicating the difference they make. The awards, organised by South West Forum’s Impact Hub South West, are the first of their kind in the UK and were presented by Dame Suzi Leather at a reception after the ‘In Pursuit of Happiness’ conference in Bristol on Monday 14 April.

Our congratulations to all organisations who entered on the high standards achieved. A summary of all entries is available here...

The Winners:

Best Overall Impact: Plymouth Music Zone is a music charity that believes passionately in the power of music to reach out & help transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable children, young people & adults across Plymouth and beyond. Also shortlisted for the Best Communicator award, judges were impressed by how well impact measurement is embedded into Plymouth Music Zone’s activities and how well this is communicated and disseminated. The charity was commended for engaging use of different media to convey its impact.

Joint Winners - One to Watch: Southern Brooks Community Partnership runs a range of projects to help children and young people through the transition into independence and adulthood; to make sure families get support that meets their individual needs; to reduce isolation, especially amongst older people; and to support the development of safe, strong and inclusive communities. Judges recognised how Southern Brooks have recently reviewed their impact practice and have started an impact journey, going back to first principles with an organisational ‘Theory of Change’ and are looking forward to seeing how this develops into a comprehensive evaluation framework.

The ss Great Britain Trust seeks to preserve the ship, ss Great Britain, and her building dock and to enhance public understanding and appreciation of their social, commercial, scientific, and technological context and historic significance. Judges were impressed by the rigour of impact assessment of the new ‘Future Brunels’ programme and look forward to seeing how these processes are embedded into the organisation.

Small is Beautiful: Dartmouth Caring is a local charity committed to helping the elderly and vulnerable of Dartmouth and the surrounding villages such as Dittisham, Stoke Fleming, Blackawton and Strete, working closely with the medical and care services to ensure we help people remain independent in times of need. Judges were impressed by the work of this small organisation to identify the difference they make, in order to enable learning within the organisation and amongst other stakeholders and to identify the financial value in terms of public sector cost savings of their work.

Best Communicator: One25 reaches out to women trapped in, or vulnerable to, street sex work, supporting them through night outreach work, a drop in centre and one-to-one casework support to break free and build new lives away from violence, poverty and addiction. Judges remarked how outstanding impact processes were embedded across One25’s services and conveyed through strong communications material – from hard hitting and engaging annual reports to media based case studies.

Impact Leader: Devon Community Foundation is an independent grant making charity supporting community causes across the County. Over the last seven years, Devon Community Foundation has made grants totalling over £7 million to over 2,500 community groups in Devon, touching the lives of literally thousands of local people. Judges felt that Devon Communicaty Foundation’s approach has resulted in promotion of best practice in grant making which is promoting impact measurement on the basis of outcomes to grant applicants.

Stephen Woollett, Chief Executive of South West Forum explained, “Impact measurement is vital to social purpose organisations demonstrating the importance and the social and economic value of the work they do. But measuring impact has its challenges. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and developing a culture of good impact practice requires leadership, however we can all learn from the examples of good practice showcased through these awards.”

The Impact Hub South West aims to develop a culture of good impact practice in the region and is working across sectors to develop opportunities for action in this area whilst undertaking research, seeking to provide commentary on current impact approaches and trends, and drawing on expertise from across the region to provide advice and support through training, events, and consultancy.

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Lankelly Chase Foundation and a former Chair of the Charity Commission explained, “For a charity, measuring impact is the way to show you are delivering your charitable purpose and is also the way to show commissioners, funders, beneficiaries, supporters, regulators and policy makers that you are making a difference to people’s lives. Evidencing impact not only helps organisations improve their services but is likely to make them more sustainable, efficient and effective. Show-casing how it can be done well, regardless of organisational size, is hugely helpful. Hats off to South West Forum for providing this learning and encouragement.”

Charity Bank, the sponsor of the Impact Awards, is an ‘impact investor’. As the specialist bank for smaller social enterprises and charities Charity Bank works with organisations that have a clearly defined social mission. Charity Bank measures the anticipated social impact of each loan application as part of its lending decision.

Commenting on the importance of the Impact Awards, Chapman Harrison, Charity Bank’s Regional Manager for the South West and a member of the awards panel said “Every organisation which has received an award has been acknowledged as an early-adopter of business practices that place the emphasis on evidencing social impact. It is natural for Charity Bank to support South West Forum’s awards initiative because they are exactly in line with our own approach. But measuring impact is not just for funders. We are pleased to see organisations, large and small, using impact measurement to help them understand, evaluate and increase their positive impact on society.”