Creating a Community Evidence Base for Sheffield

What are the aims of this project?

To explore how knowledge brokering can facilitate linkages and exchange of knowledge, and develop strategies for building capacity to generate local evidence that can be used to make evidence-informed decisions about future commissioning of community services for health and wellbeing.

Why is this important?

In the Department of Health’s vision for a ‘public health system for the 21st century’, public health is expected to support local political leaders in assessing needs related to health and wellbeing. This requires working across diverse services such as adult social care, children’s services, transport, housing and leisure to promote joint commissioning of services that will benefit disadvantaged groups. Local authorities and universities are now challenged to develop new ways of working with and incorporating public health into community development.

How will the research be carried out?

The research uses two local initiatives – the Sheffield City Council People Keeping Well in the Community and the Community Wellbeing Programme – to co-produce approaches to evaluation that define how, why, and when local services ought to work for people in different communities across Sheffield. As the evaluations progress, a National Institute of Health Research Fellowship in Knowledge Mobilisation will look at what sort of evidence is valued and how locally generated evidence is used to inform commissioning.


January 2015 – October 2018 (please note that projects are funded for different timeframes)

Who is undertaking the research?

The university partners are:

  1. Janet Harris, NIHR Fellow in Knowledge Mobilisation, leading two teams comprised of
  2. Keeping People Well in the Community: Steven Ariss, Abualbishr Alshreef, Robert Akparibo, Liddy Goyder, Annette Haywood, Tracey Young; and
  3. Community Wellbeing Programme Evaluation Framework: Robert Akparibo, Bronwen Moss

Other partners and sponsors include: Sheffield City Council Community Wellbeing Programme, Sheffield City Council Transformation Challenge Award, Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group; SOAR (Southey and Owlerton Area Regeneration).

How are stakeholders being engaged?

We are using a trans-disciplinary, participatory approach to engaging people in Sheffield. 'Transdisciplinary' means that people with many different perspectives will be contributing knowledge and deciding how it can be used to solve problems. 'Participatory' means that the number of people researching different aspects of the topic may grow over time - to the extent that community organisations and members of the community are undertaking parts of the research.

What will be the outputs from the study?

  • A review of knowledge brokering to promote wellbeing across health and non-health sectors
  • Analysis of the effectiveness of brief community support worker interventions
  • An overview of ‘what works’ across community programmes
  • A list of barriers and facilitators to addressing needs for support
  • A map of informal support networks and how they contribute to wellbeing
  • Identified benefits from receiving a combination of short- and longer-term support across different services and social networks e.g. an ‘integrated support network’
  • A list of client-valued outcomes
  • A kit of tools that are appropriate for workers and clients to use in assessing wellbeing in community settings
  • An agreed list of outcomes for routine evaluation of community programmes
  • An agreed approach to monitoring and evaluating community programmes that will provide the sort of evidence needed by commissioners
  • Information to inform future commissioning of community based programmes
  • Assessment of the utility of participatory knowledge brokering as an approach to facilitate links between knowledge generation, knowledge translation and action