UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


UCL students collaborate with community health inequalities project: Evaluation Exchange

24 November 2022

UCL’s Evaluation Exchange and students are collaborating with a new Camden Community Action Research Programme that aims to tackle health inequalities.

Camden Town Underground Station

A blog by Ruth Unstead-Joss.

UCL students are collaborating with a local community research project exploring health inequalities. Led by Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) and supported by the Evaluation Exchange, project partners of a community action research project recently worked with UCL students to develop an evaluation brief. The brief is now final and students are sought to conduct the evaluation on behalf of the Camden Community Action Research Programme. If you are a UCL student and interested in being involved, the role is advertised here. The deadline is 30th November, 2022.

Camden Community Action Research Programme

The Camden Community Action Research Programme is commissioned by the Camden Borough Partnership. The Camden Borough Partnership is part of North London’s integrated care service and is keen to break down barriers to accessing health and social care services. Two local community organisations, Umoja Health Forum and Life after Hummus are the programme’s research partners. VAC is facilitating the programme and the partnership between all stakeholders.

Through research conducted by their members, Umoja Health Forum and Life After Hummus are identifying how issues of social isolation and barriers to accessing health services are affecting different communities in Camden and how the issues could be addressed. Their findings will inform Camden Borough Partnership’s future approaches and decision-making. The Community Action Research Programme is keen to evaluate their work to understand whether the project’s methodology is working for all stakeholders and whether the programme is leading to any changes.

Partnership with the Evaluation Exchange

VAC and UCL have a long-standing partnership through the Evaluation Exchange. Traditionally we have run our 6-month evaluation skills and learning programme together. We were delighted that VAC asked us to support the community action research initiative and work in a new way together. We anticipate that through our collaboration we will continue to help build the evaluation skills of all involved, strengthen the project’s community action research approach and contribute positively in efforts to tackle health inequalities.

UCL students and Camden project partners in discussion

How the evaluation brief was developed: Via a social hackathon

UCL students were first involved in the evaluation through the development of the project’s evaluation brief, via a ‘social hackathon’. Through UCL’s Volunteering Service, seven students from across disciplines were recruited to take part in the day-long problem-solving event on UCL campus. The event on Thursday 10th November also included seven representatives from all four partners of the Camden Community Action Research Programme. Over the course of their day together, students and partners explored what was needed from the evaluation brief and draft iterations of the brief were developed and discussed. At the end of the day a proposed evaluation brief was presented by the students to the partners.

The Camden partners commented on the ability of the students to develop a brief in a short-time frame that both captured their needs and built on their ideas by sign-posting to possible evaluation questions and approaches. They commented that developing the brief in this way allowed them an “opportunity to consider the programme with ‘external’ eyes” and increased their view of “the importance of evaluation and how collaboration is key”.

It was a valuable experience for the students too. One student fed back that it was a “fun and collaborative experience of planning research in a multi-disciplinary team”. Another commented on the awareness they had gained of the “importance of integrating different perspective into their own work and of different community research models”.

What next?

Since the hackathon VAC, Life after Hummus, Umoja Health Forum and Camden Borough Partnership have finalised the brief ready to recruit an evaluator for their project. If you are a UCL student and interested in responding to the evaluation brief, applications close 30th November, 2022.


  • Find out more about the Evaluation Exchange here.
  • To get involved in future projects please contact Ruth Unstead-Joss.


Photo credit: Kai Pilger / Pexels.com