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One Oldham Fund

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The Context

The Oldham Partnership shares a collective vision ‘to make Oldham a place of ambition’. Oldham Borough Metropolitan Council (OMBC) and its partners are committed to a co-operative future for Oldham where ‘everyone does their bit and everybody benefits’.

Central to this vision is the thriving and sustainable Voluntary, Community, Faith, and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector. Recognising its pivotal role, the Oldham Plan and Locality Plan prioritise its development. Embracing innovation in investment strategies, the council embarked on the Thriving Communities programme prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This programme aimed to reimagine the sector's funding landscape, with a strategic VCFSE investment fund emerging as a transformative vehicle for progress in Oldham.

The investment was initiated and funded by OMBC, pooling existing funding sources from October 2021 to March 2023. In November 2021, Action Together introduced the 'One Oldham Fund' grants program. Initially, over £1 million was invested, primarily sourced from the Covid Outbreak Management Fund (COMF).

These grants aimed to support small-scale community innovation and social action by grassroots community groups and organisations. In total, one-hundred and six grants were awarded, totalling £708,619. These grants were divided into forty-eight micro, forty-six small, and twelve medium-sized grants, benefiting various groups and organisations across the Oldham area.

The Requirement

The Human Engine team were commissioned to conduct an evaluation that focused specifically on the impact of projects funded through the COMF (Contain Outbreak Management Fund) investment but also evaluated the impact of the One Oldham Fund as a method and framework for administering and delivering funding across the borough. 

The aim of the evaluation was to demonstrate the overall impact of the investment into the VCFSE via the One Oldham Fund, including:

  • The extent to which it delivered on the strategic priorities for investment.

  • The extent to which the principles for investment are embedded in the approach and impact on the delivery of the priorities.

  • The extent to which it delivers value for money in terms of fiscal, social and economic return on investment for the Oldham system.


The Programme

Human Engine adopted a comprehensive mixed method approach, analysing both qualitative and quantitative datasets. Qualitative data was gathered through interviews and discussions with key stakeholders, including project leads, representatives from funding partners, and OMBC colleagues. Additionally, over five hundred qualitative data points collected during program rollout were analysed to identify the groups in Oldham that received support and to showcase case studies and success stories of the Fund's impact.

Our evaluation methodology revolved around three key areas: what was written down, what was said, and what was done. This comprehensive approach ensured a thorough understanding of the Fund's impact.

We facilitated an in-person workshop with project leads from participating organisations to conduct a SWOT analysis of the Fund's management and explore potential future models. This workshop provided a platform for organisations to share their experiences, network, and discuss collaboration opportunities.

A strategic workshop with OMBC colleagues was conducted to assess how the Fund aligned with the Council's Strategic Priorities and Ways of Working. During this workshop, a PESTEL analysis was conducted to evaluate the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal implications of implementing a similar model in the future. This collaborative discussion provided valuable insights for potential future initiatives.

The Outcomes

Human Engine produced a final report offering a detailed breakdown of the funding distribution (location), recipient organisations, and the various activities, initiatives, and support they provided to the people of Oldham. 

The report outlined the great impact that the Fund had in Oldham, tangible benefits to participants of projects were:

  • Over 20,000 estimated interactions.

  • 23 buildings were either refurbished or improved 6 green spaces were improved.

  • 8 jobs or qualifications were secured. 

  • 7 volunteer posts were filled.

The Human Engine Team contributed:

  • A full mixed methods evaluation of the One Oldham Fund including analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, one-on-one interviews, and two in-person workshops with key stakeholders.

  • A five-point conclusion and nine-point recommendation summary were created that presented specific recommendations based on the management, strategic approach, and sustainability to assist the council in facilitating similar work in the future.

  • Analysis of an estimated 12,000 unique quantitative data points.

About Us

Human Engine is a Financial Times top-ranked management consultancy with specialisms in strategy, change, digital, commercial and projects.  

It was founded in 2018 with a belief that the public sector deserves better than it gets from traditional consulting firms – more human, more personal and more knowledgeable of the reality of delivering modern public services.

We have worked with dozens of public sector organisations to help transform their strategies, operations and cultures to be more agile, commercial and entrepreneurial in order to achieve financial sustainability and improved outcomes for customers and communities. 

Our mission is to help individuals and organisations to do the best work of their lives.  We do this by blending first-hand experience of the problems we help our clients solve with award-winning consulting expertise and an approach based on trust, collaboration and partnership. 

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