Posts tagged ‘VAWG’

September 9, 2013

APPG – All Pretty Pessimistic (and) Gloomy

I attended the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) this afternoon which focused on commissioning and the impact of localism on the VAWG sector.  Chaired by Bridget Phillipson, MP, we had three excellent presentations from Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid, Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid and Anthony Wills, CEO of Standing Together.  Polly reminded us of the Government’s commitment to strengthening the commissioning framework and improving support for women and girls locally.  The picture that all three painted of what is happening in practice seemed a far cry from this.

The themes that emerged included the fact that many parts of the sector didn’t have the capacity to respond to the new commissioning requirements with often inconsistent standards and outcome frameworks, small specialist organisations and the need for them to have pretty sophisticated business development teams which simply don’t exist widely.  Concerns were expressed about too much focus on high risk at the expense of early intervention and long term support.  [It will amaze you to know, that we don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive – see previous blogs on Themis].  Other points included a lack of input from service users, the loss of self help and activism and the loss of former service users ending up working in, and often leading, specialist services as generic providers win contracts. All the speakers rightly stressed the importance of specialist services and were worried that commissioning processes often ended up with the wrong provider winning the contract with too much focus on cost versus quality.  There was a call for a commissioning framework for the sector, and for longer term contracts as well as clear and simple indicators and outcome measures.  The tone of the meeting was indeed APPG, All Pretty Pessimistic and Gloomy.

Probably the most positive part of the meeting was the call for our sector to speak with one voice on these issues.  We certainly would like to see this happen.

Within CAADA we are trying to address some of these points as they relate to IDVA provision in particular, but also more widely to build the evidence base for other services to demonstrate their impact.   Our Shared Insights – Shared Outcomes programme aims to link specialist providers with their local commissioner(s) to ensure that these specialisms are not lost, their value is quantified and the experience of service users drives decisions by commissioners, service managers and practitioners.  We can provide output and outcome data for all the key community based services that are delivered by specialist providers.  If you think that this might be useful to your service, please see http://www.caada.org.uk/commissioners/Insights-for-commissioners.html

Similarly, we are starting to develop materials for commissioners so that they can commission to the standards that we would all hope to see.  You can help us by making sure that your local commissioner is aware of these and please contact us if you think we can support you in this area.  There is more information about this at http://www.caada.org.uk/commissioners/information-for-commissioners.html

Finally, we believe our Leading Lights accreditation provides IDVA services with independent verification of the quality of their provision and demonstrates this objectively to commissioners.

We share the deep concerns expressed by all attending the meeting about what is happening with commissioning in some areas and certainly would love to see the whole sector advocate for a model of support that includes both immediate practical help and longer term therapeutic support for victims and their children.  We really don’t feel that it is an either/or debate between high risk and other services, but rather that we should all be pulling in one direction to create a model that delivers safety and well being outcomes as well genuine value for money with a relentless focus on earlier intervention.  So would that be a different sort of APPG? A Possible Path to Growth?  Maybe that is stretching things too far….

March 22, 2012

The Victims and Witnesses Consultation – ‘Getting it Right’

I attended (most) of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Victims and Witnesses yesterday where the new consultation ‘Getting it Right’ was debated.  This is a very important consultation for our sector.   The main point of contention was the use of local commissioning for victim services, in particular Violence against Women services.   There was some eloquent input from Javed Khan, CEO of Victim Support and Sheila Coates, from Rape Crisis, both of whom argued strongly that there should be national direction for the commissioning of services for victims with local implementation. They argued that the current system works well and should not be amended.  To be fair, the Minister, Crispin Blunt, confirmed that services related to homicide would be commissioned nationally, most other victim services would be commissioned locally and that the consultation document did not specify where violence against women services should sit–suggesting that there is an opportunity to influence this.

Given the focus on localism, the advent of police and crime commissioners, and in the wake of the new social value bill which puts the responsibility of local authorities to consider social value (let’s call it social impact) when commissioning, it seems that an element local commissioning is something that we are very unlikely to avoid.

It would be great to share ideas about how local commissioning can be made to work well and examples of good practice that we can showcase, as well as debating the merits of national commissioning.   If you can send over your experience from your area, it would be much appreciated. Thanks for your help.