This study investigated two initiatives for preventing falls in Cheshire: public events to raise population awareness about falls and ways of preventing falls, a programme of falls assessments and falls prevention classes. Aim The study aimed to support service development by generating local learning about: the falls risk status of older people attending the public events and their use of services for preventing falls, the efficiency and effectiveness of the falls programme. Methods A local adaptation of an instrument used in similar research was administered to assess the falls risk status of older people attending the public events. This instrument captures data about the age, sex, gait, sensory deficit, falls history, current medication, medical history, mobility and living situation of respondents. Attendees were also asked about their current use of falls services. To evaluate the falls programme data were collected about the characteristics and referral sources of service users and, for users of the falls prevention classes: their mobility and balance on joining and completing the classes; their fear of falling and confidence linked to falls at the start of the classes and six months later; the number of falls they experienced in the six months before starting and after completing the classes. Findings Of the 453 attendees screened, 64.3% were at medium risk of falling or above and 34.3% had suffered previous falls. None were accessing falls prevention services. During its first year, 324 individuals were referred to the falls programme. Overall, among those individuals who provided data for analysis, there was a statistically significant improvement in the ‘clinical’ outcomes assessed and a statistically significant reduction in the occurrence of falls. The majority of respondents indicated that they achieved an improved confidence linked to falls and a reduced fear of falling. Conclusions Studies of this type can provide a valuable contribution to local learning but the characteristics of the research collaborations developed can affect study designs and the quality of the information generated. Improved contracting arrangements between service commissioners and providers may provide an opportunity to increase the rigour of local developmental studies.