An Evaluation of the Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project

From August 2002
Project Leader(s): Ian Hall
Staff: Jill Clark
Contact: Ian Hall
Sponsors: Sunderland City Council

Pennywell has many factors, and features, associated with it, which clearly link to issues of social exclusion, and is an area of considerable social and economic disadvantage. (Townsend Deprivation Indicators, 1991). Historically, the health needs of the community were not met and so there was a clear need for a resource such as the Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project (PCHRP), which is also known by staff and residents alike as the Pennywell Neighbourhood Centre (PNC). Where appropriate, we have used the two descriptors interchangeably throughout the report. This is supported by baseline figures relating to the Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project, which showed that:
• Pennywell had a population of 8,669 people served by 35 GPs, all located outside the geographical area.
• Out of 25 Wards, the two wards taking in Pennywell (Grindon and South Hylton) had deprivation rankings of 3 and 6 respectively. Both Wards had rankings of 30 and 53 out of 678 Wards in the Northern Region.
• The area had an unemployment rate of 53% and this was seen as a major factor in terms of poverty and ill health.
• Pennywell had a population structure with a young age profile. Almost one-third of the population was under 16. The number of lone parents and families with three or more dependant children was higher than both the local and national averages.
• The original Pennywell Neighbourhood Centre building could only accommodate one service at a time.
• The previous programme at PNC was over subscribed and the location meant those residents living outside the core area could often not participate in activities. There was also limited childcare provision, which again prohibited take-up. (Pennywell Neighbourhood Centre Appraisal Document, City of Sunderland Council, 1999).

The PNC is a physical resource which links primary healthcare services, family support services and work with children and young people. The aims of the project are to:
• Provide an integrated package of health and social care, which is responsive to the identified needs of the Pennywell community.
• Develop an effective model for multi-agency working.

Research Paradigm

Evaluation is a methodological area that is closely related to, but distinguishable from, more traditional social research, and utilises many of the same methodologies used in traditional social research. However, because evaluation takes place within a political and organisational context, it requires group skills, management ability, political dexterity, sensitivity to multiple stakeholders and other skills that social research in general does not rely on to the same extent.

Research Methodology

We were commissioned to complete the interim evaluation of the Pennywell Community and Health resource Project and our wholehearted thanks and acknowledgements go to all those who took part or contributed to the research. As stated in our proposal, the key aims and objectives of this evaluation were to:

• Examine the progress and achievements of the Pennywell Community and Health Project; how do these compare with the original project appraisal and expectations set out in the delivery/implementation plan?
• Explore qualitative issues relating to the impact on target groups
• Explore the synergy between this Project and other projects and existing services
• Make recommendations for improving delivery.

We adopted the following research questions:
• What lessons does the Project yield in terms of good practice?
• What lessons have been learnt and what are the areas of improvement for the Project’s future activity?
• Can the project or elements of this be used as a model for others?

The evaluation took the form of an in-depth qualitative study underpinned by an examination of quantitative monitoring and output data. The methodologies we employed were therefore a combination of desk-based and fieldwork techniques. These methods were appropriate given the various elements of the PNC we were researching. Data collection and analysis took the following forms:

Documentary analysis
Part of the evaluation has been dedicated to documentary analysis, which was ongoing throughout the research project. We attempted to make use of the various documentation made available by the partnership and the Project. Documentation included:
• Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project Appraisal Document
• Outcome measures; output and financial summaries up to March 2002
• Previous evaluation report(s).

Project case study
The case study of the Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project used a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative data we collected was that which was readily available (and supplied) within the Project and/or from the Partnership Programme. It related to, for example, Project outputs, principal costs, timescales and outcomes. Such data also included information on discrete elements within the PNC such as childcare places, adult course take up etc.


Hall, I., and Clark, J., (2002) An Evaluation of the Pennywell Community and Health Resource Project Department of Education, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


Dr Jill Clark
Principal Research Associate and Executive Director of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching