Connecting Communities

Process Evaluation: Final Report

Bramley G, Gloster R, Green A, Huxley C, Subosa M, Taylor A |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Dec 2022

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Connecting Communities was a voluntary employment support programme funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and procured and overseen by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). It was tested across nine geographically defined neighbourhoods (also called ‘lots’) and ran for three and a half years. This period included the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted on programme delivery, employment opportunities and everyday life more generally.

Emphasising intensive, personalised, and context-specific support, the programme sought to: (a) build social networks to foster positive behavioural and attitudinal changes towards work; (b) increase employment; and (c) work with local businesses to bolster the recruitment and progression of disadvantaged individuals. This evaluation identifies the factors that influenced employment and progression outcomes for participants, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the place-based approach to employment support more broadly. The study drew on qualitative data from observational site visits, in-depth interviews, and analysis of management information and claims data. An impact evaluation and assessment of cost-effectiveness will be published separately.