Evaluation of Augment’s ACE initiative

22nd February 2012

A recent evaluation of Augment’s Angus Community Enterprise reveals it to be a “dynamic organisation that is performing well”.

Augment is a user-led, voluntary mental health service organisation working in Scotland. Angus Community Enterprise (ACE) is Augment’s base and offices in Arbroath. Since 2007, it has run a user led employability and resettlement initiative that includes a “Clubhouse/ Community Resource” based on the International Clubhouse Model.

ACE acts as a focal point for user-led recovery services within the clubhouse and the wider Angus community. Its work is organised into areas such as business, employment and education, catering, maintenance and social firms. Members include people with experience of wide-ranging issues such as mental ill-health, substance misuse, homelessness and long-term unemployment.

In 2011, Augment commissioned Kinbank to carry out an evaluation of the ACE in order to assess the impact of its activities in promoting ‘recovery’ amongst its service users, with a particular focus on employability, social inclusion and financial independence.

According to the evaluation findings, many ACE members report that involvement in the initiative has had a positive impact for them:

In recent times the membership of ACE has been broadening, with a small but growing proportion of members attending for reasons other than recovery from a mental health challenge. The evidence is that these members are both gaining personally from the experience (as volunteers etc) and contributing to the success of the project overall.

Those with mental health challenges report clear, in some cases dramatic, improvements in their mental health since joining ACE. Whilst not all gains can be wholly ascribed to the impact of ACE, and less so for Ex Members, there is evidence that the recovery approach adopted is enhancing the lifeskills and resilience of members. This may go some way to explaining the apparently sustained improvements in mental health evident amongst Ex members.

Kinbank conclude that their evaluation findings reveal an “overall picture … of a dynamic organisation that is performing well and has impressive levels of members’ involvement throughout its activities.

The evaluation also makes a few recommendations for Augment. These can be read in the report which is available to download here.