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Sonia Clyne, Chair of Par Bay Big Local, chats to Sue from our research team about why it’s important to capture the changes Big Local makes to people’s lives


What do you see and feel?

Do you see and feel the changes in the people around you? Has one of your neighbours come out of their shell since taking part in a Big Local activity? Perhaps your Big Local has set up a community garden and you’ve noticed more abandoned green spaces filling with flowers and shrubs?


A new series of learning and networking events called ‘How do we know we’re making a difference?’ will support Big Local areas to capture the difference they are making to people’s lives, in ways which means something to the communities they work with.

“We know pie charts and spreadsheets to record anecdotal stories and verbal feedback don’t illuminate the depth of change which Big Local areas know they are making.”

Many Big Local area have told us they want support to measure this kind of change. ‘How do we know we’re making a difference?’ is for people on the ground who notice and value the changes in people and their environment.

I asked Sonia to give Par Bay Big Local’s take on the importance of measuring the difference their work makes to people’s lives.


“We are growing and reaching people who need reaching. We are meeting the needs of our area, but it’s tricky recording verbal feedback which demonstrates this. There isn’t always time to write it down. It’s one of our biggest challenges.

A member of staff at a local school spoke to us about a recent visit to the school by a bird and animal sanctuary which had received funding from Par Bay Big Local. The owner said “Without Par Bay Big Local’s funding award, we wouldn’t have been able to keep going and come out to the schools.”


Tools to record change

Keeping a record of feedback is important and we always collect written comments from awardees.

Par Bay has set up a diary for community groups in the area to post their events. I am putting all our awards, with the feedback originally collected, on this same website to give a succinct overview of our investment. Groups change, and people forget so we’ll follow this up with a look back over the years to reflect on what difference we have made.

“With hindsight, I think we should have provided plaques and stickers to the groups we’ve funded so that the community has a visual reminder every day of the difference Par Bay Big Local is making.”

We are holding introductory ‘How do we know we’re making a difference?’ events for Big Locals across England in March, April and May. Between two and four people can attend from each Big Local area.

To express your Big Local’s interest in taking part, register via our events page.