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CSS Programme evaluation

The Coordinated Community Support (CCS) Programme aims to address the gap in emergency support provision and reduce repeat instances of financial crisis by addressing the underlying causes of crises. We set up pilot projects in four different areas to provide support, guidance and resources to local community organisations.

Here's an evaluation of the first year.


Emma Roberts, Richard Stephens, Richard Sutcliffe, Janet Grauberg

Number of pages:

70 pages

Date published:

CCS evaluation summary

Due Covid-19, we had to adapt to respond to the challenges within communities. The overall objective of access to crisis support stayed the same but priorities changed.

  • Pre-pandemic workstreams focussed on improving access to support and appointments through funding translation, transport and co-designed services. These had to be paused or reconfigured.
  • Covid-19 workstreams focussed on timely access through provision of food, furniture and advice in a timely and Covid-safe setting via trusted agencies.

The Programme actively brought organisations responding to the Covid-19 crisis together and offered a chance to exchange experiences and understanding of the emerging needs resulting from lockdown.

While coordination remains the primary objective of the Programme, there has been acknowledgement that Covid-19 has had a double-edged impact on this objective:

  • Firstly, Covid-19 has catalysed rapid adaptation and relationship building between VCS organisations to identify and implement solutions quickly. It is possible that the relationships forged between organisations will be sustained.
  • Secondly, Covid-19 has left some organisations with little time, space or resource to codesign long-term sustainable coordinated projects.

The CCS Team has contributed to the local provision of crisis support and local systems change in the following ways:

  • CCS as a broker: organisations in the pilot sites, especially VCS organisations, value the brokerage role that the CCS Team has played. This has taken place both through facilitating CCS Programme meetings and through direct contact between organisations. The CCS Programme has offered a unique opportunity for organisations to communicate with each other in their localities, albeit virtually. In some cases, the CCS-facilitated meetings were the first time that organisations were made aware of one another.
  • CCS as an asset-identifier: since the ‘bringing together’ of organisation through the Programme, further catalysed through the needs arising because of Covid-19, organisations report an improved awareness and understanding of the strengths of other organisations in their local areas.
  • CCS workstreams welcomed as a non-target driven space: some organisations funded to deliver workstreams report that the CCS Programme is a space to ‘try’ new things and is refreshing when compared to the target-driven requirements from other funders. Organisations welcome the spirit of the Programme.
  • CCS as a platform, boosting credibility: there is some early evidence of VCS organisations feeling ‘seen and heard’ because of the facilitation of the CCS Programme. Being involved in the Programme has raised their profile in their localities and boosted their credibility. This is particularly the case for small, volunteer-led organisations.
  • Flexible, warm and responsive central CCS Team is valued: stakeholders have really welcomed the relationships built with the CCS Team and value their flexibility, especially in relation to Covid-19. Partners welcome the collaborative approach the Team has taken. The Team is increasingly being approached by local authorities for advice, indicating that they have gained trust and credibility in the four pilot sites and have laid a good foundation for improving systems in Years 2 and 3.
  • A blended approach of workstream funding and facilitation has been welcome: The value of workstream funding combined with facilitation has been valued by partners.

The CCS Programme has delivered the following activities in Year one and distributed just over £100,000 of workstream funding:

  • Promotion, engagement and partnership development
  • Pilot site partnership meetings  
  • Online grant awareness training  
  • Development of the CCS Charter (26 organisations have signed up to the charter)
  • Cross-pilot site partnership learning meetings  
  • Commissioned research on analysing different perspectives of crisis provision 
  • Support to develop 17 workstreams funded directly by CCS funding 
  • Leveraged £68,000 from additional sources to complement and add value 

The CCS Team has engaged 368 professionals during Year one of the Programme; representing approximately 139 organisations across the four pilot sites.

Monitoring data from the Programme shows at least 2,000 individuals have been supported directly through the Programmes workstreams in 2020. For those who have accessed services through the Programme workstreams, outcomes include:

  • More likely to access support from the right place, quickly 
  • Access to a wider range of support services  
  • More dignified experience of accessing crisis support and systems 
  • More able to trust someone who can help me
  • Well-being is maintained or prevented from entering crisis
  • More likely to have had support with additional needs (beyond immediate crisis)
  • Mental and/or physical health is maintained
  • Children are more likely to be able to engage with education

Much of the work in Year one of the CCS Programme has been focused on building the foundations –the networks and relationships of organisations working at local, pilot site level.

Outcomes for pilot sites in Year one include:

  • Increasing levels of communication between organisations
  • Increasing levels of trust between organisations
  • Increased clarity of responsibilities and strengths of VCS provision
  • Agility of VCS is better understood
  • Shared vision of the centrality of client journey
  • Joint understanding of the importance of referral systems
  • Building upon learning within the Programme

Much of the impact on national systems has been in direct response to Covid-19, bringing policy makers closer to the experiences of communities with regards to challenges around digital exclusion and access to Free School Meals.

It was noted that many of the smaller organisations did not have other routes in to influence policy and practice, so this was an empowering part of the Programme for them. The Children's Society, together with others in the sector, has directly influenced some operational systems change at national level in response to Covid-19.