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Malin Arvidson. Photo: Patrik Hekkala

Malin Arvidson

Senior lecturer | PhD in Sociology

Malin Arvidson. Photo: Patrik Hekkala

The social return on investment in community befriending


  • Malin Arvidson
  • Fraser Battye
  • David Salisbury

Summary, in English

Purpose: This paper illustrates the social and economic impact of services delivered by a small charity to families affected by post-natal depression (PND). It highlights challenges and offers insights to the meaning of ‘value for money’ for commissioners of public health services.

Design/methodology/approach: The analysis is based on a social return on investment (SROI) approach. Evidence was gathered from quantitative data, interviews and a literature review. The analysis examined short, medium and long term effects, and attributed monetary values to social outcomes.

Findings: The service provides a return of £6.50 for every £1 invested. The analysis established outcomes for service users and long term impacts on families and children. It illustrated how these services are important in achieving more appropriate service responses, providing value for money to the NHS.

Research limitations/implications: There is no common accepted method for identifying financial values for a number of the benefits identified in this analysis. By being transparent in how the analysis was carried out the paper encourages further critical thinking in this area.

Practical implications: Engaging commissioners in this type of analysis may assist them in the use of economic evaluation as an input to decision making.

Originality/value: The paper contributes to our understanding of ‘social value’ and ‘value for money’ in the context of public services. This is of importance given the Social Value Act and ‘Open Public Services’ reform are being implemented in the UK.


  • School of Social Work

Publishing year





International Journal of Public Sector Management





Document type

Journal article


Emerald Group Publishing Limited


  • Social Work




  • ISSN: 0951-3558