UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Evaluation Exchange taster sessions for voluntary and community sector organisations

17 June 2021

This blog post has been written by Compost London and Heal Together, two community organisations based in East London, following a taster session event exploring the challenges that voluntary and community sector organisations face around evaluation.

Evaluation exchange

Through the eyes of Compost London - part of the planning & delivery team

Why we’re involved

As part of Compost London’s work supporting and building the capacity of voluntary, community and faith organisations, we often meet groups who are unsure or even scared about evaluation. We know that being able to evaluate services and evidence impact are key to effectiveness and sustainability, so we are always keen to offer support in this area.

Some of Compost’s directors helped to set up and deliver Newham’s pilot Evaluation Exchange with UCL through Aston-Mansfield. It was a great example of collaborative working and provided the six organisations that took part with confidence, knowledge and skills that made a real difference to them.

When UCL secured funding to run Evaluation Exchange programmes in Newham and Camden this year, we were very keen to be part of making it happen.

Why we ran the session

This time the planning team (UCL and Compost) decided to run a series of taster sessions for organisations and students. The session on April 29th targeted organisations in Newham or Camden.

We wanted participants to:

  • Find out more about the Evaluation Exchange and if it is for them
  • Discuss the evaluation challenges their organisation is facing, and think about ways to solve them
  • Meet and work collaboratively with others from the sector.

We wanted to build our own understanding of:

  • Why people are interested in participating in the Evaluation Exchange
  • How to implement the Evaluation Exchange in the context of the pandemic.

What happened

24 people from voluntary and community sector organisations in Camden and Newham attended. We introduced the Evaluation Exchange including a timeline of events. Louise Vera from the Renewal Programme in Newham shared her experience of the pilot programme, including why she chose her evaluation challenge, what her experience of the Exchange was like, and how she’d used what she learned.

In breakout groups we looked at case studies of fictitious organisations, thinking through evaluation challenges and considering how the Evaluation Exchange could help.

What people said in feedback:

This would be an amazing opportunity for our organisation which has recently gone through a massive transition.”
We can see the value this could create for our organisation in the long term.”

Through the eyes of Heal Together - a participant from Newham

Why are you interested in the Evaluation Exchange? 

We are interested because we know the values that it can bring to our organisations, when we understand and introduce evaluation processes into our daily work routine. 

Why did you come to the taster session on 29th April? 

We came because we wanted to learn how about what we can do to bring evaluation processes and culture into our organisation

What did you expect? 

We had no particular expectations!

What was it like? 


Were you inspired by anything? 

The whole process inspired us; if done correctly, it could have a lasting benefit for the organisation and the service users, which is why it's so interesting to us. Also, hearing about other organisations and their experiences of evaluation culture was very useful. 

Did you notice any connections or similarities with other groups?  

Yes. That’s why I enjoyed the session very much because other organisations also have similar issues, and hearing how they are dealing with this is very insightful. 

What did you learn or take away? 

We had an ‘aha’ moment while we were in the session. If we are not evaluating our services, how else will we show the impact we create for our service users? So the learning was how it made us think differently about our current processes, and what could be different when we include evaluation as part of our processes. 

What do you plan to do next?

Make evaluation part of our organisation’s culture by taking small steps to create that culture. Think about applying to the Evaluation Exchange.

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash