UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


A celebration: The Evaluation Exchange 2021/22 

28 June 2022

The Evaluation Exchange is a collaboration between UCL and community organisations in Camden and Newham aiming to improve evaluation practice. Project Manager Ruth Unstead-Jones reflects on the celebratory event and the achievements across the year.

People in conference

On the 28th of April, we held a celebration to mark the end of the Evaluation Exchange 2021/22 and to recognise the achievements of everyone involved, bringing together participating students, researchers and organisations, as well as staff from across UCL who had supported the project along the way. Over 70 people attended in-person with others joining online to hear the opening speeches chaired by Caroline Rouse, one of the Directors of Compost London.  

The Dean of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, Christoph Lindner, opened the event highlighting that:

“The Evaluation Exchange is a great example of what universities should be about - mobilising our knowledge and expertise to serve the needs of society… and opening spaces that bring people together.”

Christoph emphasised how the Evaluation Exchange encourages a two-way dialogue between universities and our local communities in which “we’re sharing, but we’re also learning from the expertise of our partners”. He expressed his thanks to Compost London and Voluntary Action Camden for their vital role in delivering the programme.   

This year, 13 voluntary and community sector organisations in Camden and Newham participated in the Evaluation Exchange and 48 students and researchers were recruited to the programme. The celebration was the perfect moment to premiere the new animation about the Evaluation Exchange:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/3nhBzBpeXXA

Alongside the animation, a new video made by participating organisation Money A+E about their experience of the Evaluation Exchange was shared:  

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/F8egEC2h

Amanda Clery, a PhD student at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, spoke about her experience of working with Kentish Town City farm. Amanda and her team created an interactive map helping children and others feed back on their visit in an enjoyable way. The hope is that the new physical tool will help the farm understand who is visiting and how visitors enjoy different areas. Amanda shared that the experience helped the students and researchers understand “what research impact we can offer community organisations and what community organisations can bring to us” and thanked the students and researchers she worked with.  

Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Camden, Keith Morgan, closed the speeches asking that the collaboration with UCL continue, saying “we don’t want this work to stop here”. He explained:

“I think it’s really impressive to see what can be achieved in a relatively short period of time. This programme has the potential to scale up… There are many more organisations interested in working collaboratively to tackle evaluation challenges and so we want to continue to work with UCL to strengthen the approach and widen the opportunity to more organisations in Camden, Newham and other boroughs”.  

Keith thanked all the students, researchers and organisations who took part and invited them to accept their certificate and a gift of a plant from participating organisation, Calthorpe Community Garden.  

The Evaluation Exchange is founded in an understanding that strong personal bonds between people enable collaboration, encourage innovation and increase people’s confidence. During the Covid-19 pandemic, training and support was moved online. We were navigating new territory trying to build connections between people who were physically distant. Some small teams had been able to meet in-person during the 6-month programme, but for many this had not been possible. We hope that by bringing people together at the celebration to see and hear each other’s work, we highlighted the valuable contribution everyone played in difficult circumstances, and also opened up new opportunities for collaboration. 

You can find out more about each team’s work in their posters that were displayed at the event, or learn more about the Evaluation Exchange via our website.

Here is one of the feedback forms collected at the event:

The Evaluation Exchange - feedback