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This article presents a new system for classifying UK charities’ activities according to their charitable purposes. It also outlines our attempts to use keyword search rules to apply these classifications to the various UK charity registers. The classification results and code, which are made freely available online, help to address the limitations of existing classification schemes in the UK context. Depending on the scheme, these include a lack of detail and coverage of important subsectors, a lack of systematic data collection and limits on the number of classifications per charity. We discuss the pros and cons of different approaches and show that the keyword searching method provides a sufficiently accurate and transparent approach. We also present some preliminary results on how commonly each ‘tag’ is matched against UK charities, as well as exploring how the results compare to existing classifications in the register of charities for England and Wales.

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Background:

Research partnership approaches that engage community members within the research team (for example, integrated knowledge translation, community-based participatory research) are typically used to enhance the relevance and usefulness of research findings. However, research outcomes generated through partnered research do not de facto address the priorities of those most affected nor take inclusion or power dynamics into consideration. Consensus methods (for example, Delphi, Deliberative Dialogue) can be used to develop evidence-based solutions by addressing the groups’ needs and priorities. Limited research has examined how consensus methods are used by research partnerships.

Aims and objectives:

Using the PRISMA-ScR checklist as a guide, this scoping review sought to better understand the use of consensus methods in research partnerships.

Methods:

The search strategy involved four databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE and CINAHL Plus). A total of 6,654 citations were screened, 404 were advanced for full text review, and 34 studies met eligibility criteria. Data from the 34 studies were extracted and iteratively analysed by three members of our research team.

Findings:

At least 11 different consensus methods were used with variations of the Delphi being most common. Issues of inclusion and power dynamics were rarely discussed. Overall, there was limited reporting of consensus methods, partnership approaches, and/or power dynamics.

Discussion and conclusions:

This review extends the literature by providing an overview of consensus methods that have been conducted in research partnerships and how they have been executed. We offer initial considerations for conducting and reporting on the use of consensus methods in research co-production.

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This article aims at contributing to the current literature on poverty data limitations and measurement by discussing the process for producing the first multidimensional poverty measure based on the consensual approach for the City of Buenos Aires. The results show a remarkable level of consensus about the necessities of life in the twenty-first century, underline the importance of generating more suitable indicators of deprivation and show that unmet basic needs-type variables are no longer adequate for measuring poverty in countries like Argentina. According to the valid and reliable poverty index, 20.3% of the city’s population live in households in multidimensionally poor households, this being the social dimension that shows the highest deprivation rate.

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We examine how children’s centres in a major city in England responded to food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic by helping to run ‘FOOD Clubs’ to support families. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with children’s centre staff, we analyse how clubs were organised, why people joined them, and the range of benefits parents derived from them. We extend the literature on food insecurity which focuses heavily on the rise of foodbanks. Our data also informs broader policy debates around supporting parents in poverty, effective early years provision and the challenges facing families experiencing food insecurity.

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Background:

Strategies to help researchers use the research evidence they (co)produce to inform policy should be tailored to the context. Yet there is little guidance on research-policy engagement activities in nursing and health sciences disciplines.

Aims and objectives:

We explored the experiences and perspectives of nursing and health sciences researchers at different career stages, regarding research-policy engagement activities and their impacts on policy. We also explored researchers’ understanding of terminology and theory regarding research-policy engagement.

Methods:

We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 researchers, at various career stages, and conducted content and thematic analysis of the data.

Findings:

‘Disseminating and communicating research’, and ‘building professional partnerships’ were the most common types of activity, with senior researchers favouring the latter. Early and mid-career researchers favoured the former, citing the need to build credibility and track record before engaging with policy actors. We identified individual and contextual factors that influence policy impact and researchers’ capacity to engage in such activities. Researchers’ conceptions and understanding regarding evidence-informed policymaking theory and process varied. Terminology also varied, with ‘knowledge translation’ the most common term.

Discussion and conclusions:

Despite evidence indicating the limited effectiveness of dissemination activities on policy, researchers pursue such efforts, to enable the formation of relationships with influential policy actors and policy impact in the longer term, and because of academia’s drive for research outputs. Researchers would benefit from supportive organisational contexts and greater knowledge of research-policy engagement theory, evidence and practice, through tailored workshops addressing relational and political considerations, as well as structured mentoring.

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‘Destitution’ has re-entered the lexicon of UK social policy in the 2010s, highlighted by the rapid growth of food banks and rough sleeping in a context of controversial welfare reforms and austerity policies, yet theoretical literature on this remains limited. Specialist surveys have been developed to measure and profile these phenomena, but these remain separate from the mainstream statistical approach to poverty, which relies heavily on large-scale household surveys. Evidence from recent work in this area, including qualitative evidence, is very suggestive of risk and driving factors, but it is difficult to weigh the relative importance of different factors or to predict the effects of policy measures. A composite survey approach is developed, linking a specialised survey targeting households at risk of destitution with a major national household panel dataset, to enable predictive models to be fitted to data including significant representation of hard-to-reach and non-household populations. Models predicting destitution and food bank usage are developed and compared, highlighting the roles of key factors. Vignettes are used to show how the risks vary dramatically between households in different situations. The potential role of such models in micro-simulation or prediction of impacts of different scenarios is discussed.

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This chapter shares insights from some of the organisations who have experience of embedding this approach in their work. It has a resources section setting out some useful information for working in this way. It includes a description of the software OutNav developed by the authors and used for embedding this approach.

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Charity reserve levels are widely used as a measure of financial vulnerability, of both individual charitable organisations and the wider sector. This paper assesses the mandated reporting of reserves by a large sample of British charities. We find that many charities are reporting figures that do not match the definition of reserves given by regulatory bodies. We therefore recommend caution when using extant reserves data, and that increased attention should be paid to the preparation of such data.

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A meaningful connection between activities and outcomes is often vague or unexplored – but this magic ‘how’ change happens is essential for driving programmes and for understanding their impact. Outcome or impact maps are the core of the approach in this book, as the building block for setting out, understanding, learning about and evidencing change. This is one type of ‘theory of change’ approach which is common for understanding change in complex systems. We believe that process-driven theories of change are most effective for public services, and in this chapter we set out our version of this – outcome or impact mapping – and illustrate how they can be used at different levels.

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Whether supporting people to move on in their lives, implementing new policy initiatives, providing training or spreading good practice, the evidence shows that the most effective approaches are those that are tailored to the specific context. Rather than ignoring it, trying to work well with the challenges and opportunities of any initiative’s context can help improve delivery and really make a difference to people and communities. It’s also essential for shaping how the initiative will make a difference, and for tracking that difference. This chapter discusses why context matters and sets out some practical ways of working effectively with the complex context in which anyone seeking to make a difference finds themselves.

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