The interim evaluation of Power to Change’s Empowering Places programme looks at three markers of success, and addresses the implications of COVID-19 on the community businesses in six places.

Renaisi is the independent evaluation partner for Power to Change’s Empowering Places programme. Empowering Places aims to build more resilient communities by catalysing and nurturing community businesses to provide benefits and opportunities for local people. The programme funds locally rooted ‘catalyst’ organisations in six places – Wigan; Leicester; Bradford; Plymouth; Grimsby; Hartlepool –  to help empower communities to develop community businesses.

Power to Change’s overall vision is to support ‘better places through community business’, where community businesses revive local assets, protect the services that people rely on, and address local needs. Power to Change’s usual funding model aims to support particular sectors, people or businesses at a certain stage in the community business lifecycle through a mix of both open and targeted application programmes.

Empowering Places differs from this norm by taking a ‘place-based’ approach – devolving power, decision making and funding to trusted local community-based organisations. The programme aims to build resilience in places by catalysing and nurturing community businesses so that local communities become stronger and more connected, and provide more opportunities for local people. Empowering Places is based on the premise that locally rooted organisations understand their community’s needs, strengths and motivations, and can use this to inspire change sustainably and collaboratively with others in their community.

Renaisi was first commissioned to support Empowering Places in July 2016. Our role was to develop the place selection process (clear criteria and a shortlist of places that would be invited to take part in the programme). The programme was rolled out in seven of those shortlisted areas in July 2017. Renaisi was later commissioned to evaluate the programme at the start of the third year of delivery, from May 2019 onwards. Find out more about Renaisi’s evaluation services.

The interim evaluation, authored by Renaisi’s Alice Thornton and Lily O’Flynn, looks at the success of the programme against three markers – “Better Community Business”; “Stronger Communities”; and “Better Places.