Monday Lightning Talks 13.45-14.15 (Bridewell Hall)

Using R to produce innovative, quick and reproducible evidence: Claire Benard, Crisis UK
This presentation shows how R packages, such as clustering and linear modeling can be used to produce and reproduce innovative analysis. Although learning a code-based software can be daunting, we hope that this 5-minute presentation inspires other charities to develop similar skills and share their own successes and challenges.

Lightning Talk Details:

Crisis is a homelessness charity offering education, recreational classes and one-to-one support to single homeless people or people at risk of homelessness. We help our members out of homelessness sustainably by ensuring that each member progresses into stable housing, reaches financial security, achieves good emotional and physical health and builds positive support network.

We collect data on our members’ demographics, their support needs at baseline, their use of our services and their progress. Our team uses this data to draw insights on our client group and on the different services. We are keen to share our experience of using R in monitoring, evaluation, research and learning.

Using R allows us to simplify the processes to query the database, clean and manipulate data. This means that the same analysis can be reproduced year-on-year to evaluate progress over time. Examples of the analysis we run include clustering algorithms to identify profiles of members in order to target action plans. Linear models help us identify the factors of success of our members and the barriers to engagement. We also have done some geographical analysis of the data to inform strategic decisions around developing outreach or building-based services. All of the data manipulation, the analysis and the visualisation is done in R, which is open-source and has a lot of free training resources available.

Learning a code-based software for the first time can be daunting, however we hope that the opportunity of a 5-minute presentation can inspire other charities to develop similar skills and share their own successes and challenges.


Claire Benard  is an impact analyst at Crisis, a homelessness charity for single homeless people in the UK. Her job is to work out which interventions work best to help people out of homelessness to ensure that the charity maximises its impact. Prior to this, she worked as an economist in a consultancy and in a private bank. She also has experience as a data and information analyst in international charities in the UK and overseas.