• Emma Bowkett

Impact Galleries – What are they and why are they so impactful?



At Neighbourly Lab we have been busy developing a new and exciting output called the Impact Gallery. The premise of the gallery is simple, it is a tool to share and elevate the work that is going on within communities/industries. The gallery works by providing a standardised framework to create a standardised framework for sharing best practice, celebrate success and bring people together.


We first developed the Impact Gallery through our work in evaluating the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust’s grant called the Tackling Loneliness grant. The grant includes 60 diverse projects all committed to alleviating loneliness in the armed forces community and to learning from one another's work.


We developed a standardised template for the gallery and it was sent out to all 60 grantholders containing two or three questions designed to encourage responses which focus on sharing learning and impact. The template also included metadata (information like geographical location, target cohorts and email addresses), as well as pictures and quotes. The design of the template aimed to provide a brief insight into the inner workings of these projects and for grant holders to connect with one another over their shared similarities and differences.


Once we had all of the responses we inputted the data into the templates and shared them out to the whole network to which we received a brilliant response, which we shall some of below.


“It is absolutely fabulous well done and I will read each and every one” (Armed Forces Grantholder)


“The gallery you have created is AMAZING! It's so cool, I have never seen anything like it before.” (Armed Forces Grantholder)


“Thank you so much for this, I have loved looking through the gallery. Really looking forward to seeing how people learn from this and come together” (AFCFT Staff member)


Here are the standardised templates for our two outputs of the Impact Gallery:


Below is the final output, which we developed into two iterations (but we are only sharing one here), both highlighting the successes of these projects in supporting severely isolated veterans. The first output looked at the most effective mechanisms for tackling loneliness for veterans in AF communities and the second looked at the most effective mechanism to reach severely lonely veterans.


We shared the output of the Impact Gallery to both the grantholders and the AFCFT and the feedback that we collected was overwhelmingly positive on both sides. The feedback highlighted some main themes which we will briefly share:


The impact gallery developed a community of shared practice and learning:


The gallery is a platform for communities and organisations to come together and learn from one another. It offers the chance to share what is going particularly well, what people have learned through their work and what challenges they have encountered.


We found through our experience with the AFCFT that the Impact Gallery allowed people to learn from one another in an open and honest way, and to connect at a deeper level. In our work with the AFCFT it has provided some of the answers for what works to tackle severe loneliness within the AF community and has given people the tools for how they will do their work in the future. The quote shared below reflects the community of shared practice that was developed.

“Many thanks for sharing this great work. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our work with a wider audience and to allow us to learn from one another.” (Armed Forces Grantholder)



It became a platform to celebrate success:


The Impact Gallery is a platform where people are encouraged to share their success and celebrate the success of others. Gallery contributors from the tackling loneliness project found this a unique opportunity to celebrate and elevate their own work, which increases pride and elicits a motivation for them to continue their efforts. The gallery also acted as a source of inspiration and stimulus as people can look at the brilliant work of others and reflect on how they could do something similar through building on the success of others.


It became a platform to bring people together:


The gallery presented the opportunity for people to come together. The gallery is a shared platform where people can find out what is going on within their community and develop new and fruitful connections. From our experience with the AFCFT we have seen this community really band together and find new ways in which they can collaborate with one another and avoid working within silos. This sense of coming together has been seen amongst grantholders but also amongst members of the AFCFT who have been able to learn and connect more with the projects that they have funded through this brilliant grant.


Based on our learning whilst creating this output and the many positive outcomes that have developed from it, we believe the Impact Gallery is an exciting and useful output. It remains a tool for people to use and draw inspiration from through this current project cycle and in future projects that they might do.


We are still learning from our two outputs of the Impact Gallery and we are using a similar technique for our Essential Mix project in Glasgow and London to do co-creation workshops for project intervention ideas and to bring groups of people and organisations together to learn from one another in a fun and shareable way. Watch this space!


If you would like to better understand Impact Galleries, please contact emma@neighbourlylab.com.


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