Macmillan Cancer Support worked with partners to establish Cancer Information and Support Drop-in Services in a citywide network of libraries. This was the largest programme of its kind being funded by Macmillan currently and was seen as a pilot for the UK as a whole. Given the significance of this initiative, Social Value Lab was commissioned to carry out a major independent evaluation to consider the progress, effectiveness and emerging impacts of the three year set-up phase of the service.
We examined the implementation of the programme, whether the objectives were achieved (including cultural and organisational change), the effectiveness of the volunteer programme, the service quality, the outcomes achieved by volunteers and service users – particularly relating to quality of life – and the effectiveness of partnership efforts.
The research was based on an analysis of monitoring data and a comprehensive programme of research fieldwork including interviews, focus groups and surveys involving:
- Strategic partners and stakeholders
- Operational staff, including managers, the programme team and frontline library staff
- Volunteers that deliver the service
- A selection of people that have used or been exposed to the service.
The findings set out in the evaluation were positive in most respects. The programme was found to have been implemented as well as might reasonably have been expected, most of the basic building blocks of an effective service were in place, and service user experience and impact was encouraging. As well as validation for this large-scale investment, the evaluation provided Macmillan Cancer Support with the evidence and direction it needed to strengthen the reach, engagement, and potential sustainability of the service, enabling it to become firmly embedded in local libraries. The evaluation team also worked with Macmillan to see the charities first evaluation published as a peer-reviewed article in the respected Health International Journal.