Methodology and Shared Learning: The Ideas Hub is working with the NPC (National Philanthropy Capita: as we believe in sharing our achievements and how we track our economic impact.

Identifying gaps: see About us/ By the community

Objective 1: Less Loneliness- Total Impact: £655,560

The Ideas Hub provides a wide range of services and support to help tackle and prevent loneliness in Chelmsford, including

  • Befriending Café; Workshops and activities; Connecting service; Legal service; Community space; Mental Health Safe Space; Health and social projects
  • Added benefits: economic value of volunteering

These ‘befriending’ services provide Chelmsford residents (all ages, cultures, and abilities) with opportunities for social interaction and a sense of being part of a community (supporting both English and non-English speakers) as well as supporting better service users from other organisations

Economic benefits (financial estimates):

Approach:  We have used an ‘economist’s approach’ to defining the relevant costs and benefits of our activities, in particular by defining them with reference to a counterfactual — i.e. the position in the absence of that activity. Thus, for example, avoided costs to the National Health Service (NHS) are counted as a benefit of our activities.

In addition, we have considered a range of non-financial costs and benefits, including improvements in quality of life and the opportunity cost of volunteering. The analysis presented here is therefore a social cost–benefit analysis, rather than a purely financial assessment. Through our research we have identified three direct impacts of our activities on reducing loneliness :

  • improved mental health and wellbeing
  • better navigation of ‘the system’
  • enhanced skills training and enhanced educational opportunities (education and employment)

These three impacts have an economic effect in the following four ways:

  • reduction of cost to the NHS
  • improvement of quality of life in the beneficiaries
  • improved labour market outcomes
  • reduced cost of social services to the government

There is now a notable body of evidence that loneliness has a material impact on the mental health (including a higher incidence of depression: and that the economic effects of  improvement in mental health include reduced costs to the NHS resulting from the reduction in the treatment. See: King’s Fund (2008), ‘Paying the Price: the cost of mental health care in England to 2026’.

  • Free Legal Service = Total economic value of: £330,000/ year
  • 40 weeks x 3 hours x £50/h = £6,000 in volunteering time (hourly rate based on Affordable Law For You hourly rates)
  • 40 weeks x 3 hours x £5/hour = £600 in space cost

Source of calculation: Bath University – Benefits of Legal Advice (£50/ £1 spent)

  • Connecting activities = Total economic value of (£1:£2.80): £109,200/ year
  • 200 days x 3hours x £10/hour = £6000 in volunteering time
  • 200 days x 3hours x£5/ hour = £3000 in space
  • Mapping out Grant = £30,000

Source(s) of calculation:

Kensington & Chelsea Social Council- Social Prescribing Programme (£2.80 per £1 spent/ Circa 11.5% reduced hospital admissions)

Sheffield Hallam University: Rotherham Social Prescribing Pilot
(Inpatient admissions down 21%/ A&E attendances 20%/ Outpatient apps 21%)

University of West of England (£2.90 per £1 spent)

  • Activities and workshops= Total economic value of (£1:£7): £105,000/ year

Based on 2 detailed social return on investment studies for the Ideas Hub Chelmsford (c.£7 social benefit per £1 spent based on New Economy Manchester Database)

  • 200 days x 3 hours x £20/hour (2 volunteers) =£ 12000 in volunteering time
  • 200 days x 3hours x £5/hour = £3000 in space
  • Material cost covered by donations


  • Economic value of volunteering = Total economic value of (£1:£4.64): £111,360

6 hours volunteered/ day x 200 days x 2 volunteers x £10 =  24000 hours

These benefits to volunteers can range from general satisfaction and wellbeing associated with helping to develop more (soft) skills, increased employability and improved health outcomes

Source(s) of calculation:

Case study: Supporting training skills

R had just come back from university and was struggling to get a job as a graduate. The Ideas Hub tailored a role for R to do research and develop an SROI, while being supported and guided by a professional management consultant. R soon found a job as a management consultant. This is only one example amongst a number of success stories (other examples can be provided).

Case study: improving skills

  1. did an MA in art psychotherapy in 2007 but shortly after became a full-time carer for C’s parents and disabled sibling. In 2013, C. found the Ideas Hub and participated in a range of creative workshops. C. was then encouraged to run C’s own workshops and exhibit C’s work starting with the Sensation Festival and regularly since. This extended C’s network and rebuilt C’s confidence and skills. C’s has now regained a Health Professional Council (HPC) registration and recommenced C’s career…