How we make a difference
To plan our services and understand our impact, we systematically examine our approach using our theory of change, first introduced in 2014. This involves exploring the link between:
- an activity we do eg providing a community bus for older people
- with our outputs eg passenger trips to a local supermarket
- to our desired outcomes eg people can access the services they need to live as independently as possible.
To make this assessment of our impact as rigorous as possible, we use the comprehensive outcomes matrix developed by Big Society Capital. In this system – and as set out in our theory of change below – the key areas of impact we are seeking are:
Access to local facilities
The extent to which our services are supporting their users to live as independently as possible and to have the ongoing support needed to maintain their independence.
Physical and mental health
The extent to which our services are supporting their users to maintain a sense of physical and mental wellbeing.
Family, friends and relationships
The extent to which our services are supporting their users to have a positive social network that provides love, belonging and emotional and practical support.
Citizenship and community
The extent to which our services are supporting their users to be active citizens and feel a part of their community.
Employment, training and education
The extent to which our Learning Centre supports its learners into employment, education or further training.
Income and financial inclusion
The extent to which our actions as an employer and purchaser have an impact in their own right.
Conservation of the natural environment
The extent to which our actions as a provider of public transport have had a positive environmental impact.
Our theory of change
How we measure our impact
The passenger trips that provide our outputs are tracked through our booking and logistics systems and collated to monitor our impact every month. Each year, we review our data collection methods to improve our accuracy. Our outcomes are measured using a rolling annual cycle of focus groups and user surveys, with survey questions continually under review to gain a deeper insight into our impact.
Our Learning Centre data is gathered for returns to our partners such as the Education and Skills Funding Agency, colleges and others.
Environmental data is collected and analysed as part of our day-to-day transport operations and economic data is generated by a monthly analysis of payroll and supplier information.
Good practice in social impact measurement is constantly evolving. As a consequence, we continuously review our approach to ensure an ever better window onto the change we have made. Each year, we revise our methods in three ways:
- exploring what new practice in impact reporting we can usefully implement
- ongoing work to improve our data accuracy across all regions and services
- applying what we have learned to improve our research questions.