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Hamelin Trust is a charity formed in 1979 to provide additional services for children with disabilities. Hamelin Trust now has many projects supporting people with disabilities and their families across Essex. One of these is Roots and Shoots, a horticultural project that offers training and work experience in gardening and maintenance to residents of South East Essex who have learning disabilities.

A Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis has been conducted to evaluate the social value created by Roots and Shoots between April 2009 and March 2010. The analysis evaluates the social return created for the students who attend Roots and Shoots, their parents and carers, the customers who use the service regularly, and Local Authorities who fund the attendance of some students. The SROI analysis was carried out according to the standard approach to SROI as documented in the Cabinet Office sponsored Guide to SROI.

The analysis showed that the activities of Roots and Shoots resulted in two immediate changes for students, these changes led to others, which ultimately resulted in the students feeling better about themselves and what they can do and feeling more comfortable talking to people or have more friends. A few students also moved to more independent living and another got a job. Outcomes are also achieved for the students’ parents and carers, for example becoming more relaxed and improving relationships, and for customers, who enjoy supporting a social enterprise but can feel frustrated due to receiving a somewhat slower and less reliable service. In addition, students, customers and Local Authorities save money through using the Roots and Shoots service.

This SROI calculates that, for every pound invested in Roots and Shoots, the likely social value created through these outcomes is about £2.07. This is based on the information currently available. This social value is divided between the students, for whom 42.7% of the social value is created, their parents and carers who receive 25.6%, the customers who receive 0.9%, and the Local Authorities, for which 30.8% of the social value is created.

As in all SROI analyses, this calculation was based on estimations and assumptions. The sensitivity of the social return ratio to changes in a number of these was tested. As a result, the social return for each pound invested ranged from £ 1.76 to £3.92.

A number of recommendations were made as a result of the analysis, which may help shape data collection and improve future social impact measurement at Roots and Shoots. The recommendations included: ensuring Roots and Shoots has a data collection system which regularly monitors whether the outcomes identified are being achieved and how long they last, and investigating the possibility of having a minibus to transport students to and from the service.

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