Violence against women and girls funding review: analysis of responses

Analysis of the responses to the Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Violence Against Women and Girls Services call for evidence.

Question 7

How can barriers to services for women, children and young people experiencing violence against women and girls be removed across Scotland?

232 responses were analysed for this question of which 157 were submitted by individuals and 75 by organisations. The organisations that answered this question included 8 local authorities/governments, 4 NHS organisations, 43 third sector organisations, and 20 classified as "other". There were eight themes emerging from the qualitative analysis of the free-text responses to this question.

Theme 1: Provision single-sex spaces

The most common theme was the need for single-sex spaces. Respondents indicated that women and girls could be self-excluding from VAWG services because of the lack of single-sex spaces.

"Barriers can be removed by ensuring that 'Single Sex Spaces' are provided. It is extremely important for female victims of trauma, rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence to have single sex spaces for many reasons; privacy, dignity and safety." (Individual)

Theme 2: Increase funding

Responses frequently mentioned the need for increased funding in VAWG services since the current level of funding results in limited capacity to help victims and creates long waiting lists. Respondents stated that increasing the funding for VAWG services would improve accessibility as there would be more services in rural areas. Some respondents raised concern about the long-term sustainability of VAWG provision, particularly regarding services provided by third sector organisations, and suggested increasing funding to ensure all organisations are finically viable.

"Sufficient, appropriate and sustainable funding allows services to plan for the long term. There was an expectation that with strong leadership from The Scottish Government the VAWG sector could successfully move to supportive sustainable pathways for funding vital services. Specifically, this leadership should formally recognise the continued need for funding frontline crisis services within local authority areas, while ensuring there is increased focus placed on prevention and early intervention with additional budgets made available to support this work." (Multi-agency network)

"Adequate and long term funding will help reduce a lot of barriers. Services need to be open at times that people can access them, not just Monday to Friday 9-5, this costs money for salaries and office overheads. More outreach services are required to that services need to be accessible to those living in rural areas, BME communities and the LGBTQA+ community." (Third sector organisation)

Theme 3: Improve accessibility

Accessibility and inclusivity in VAWG services was a frequent answer to this question. Respondents highlighted that services for survivors of VAWG should be available in more places and also in more rural areas, ensuring geographical consistency across the country. Furthermore, provisions should be made to ensure equal access opportunities for people of different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as those with disabilities. For instance, some respondents suggested offering translation services to ensure accessibility of migrant women.

"Services should have disabled access, be fully inclusive, have their LGBT Charter, Care Inspectorate scores etc." (Individual)

"Services should be accessible and barriers removed in relation to: proximity and distance; local provision; immediate/emergency access; disability access; inclusive culturally; faith and belief; inclusive in language; race and ethnicity; nationality; financially." (Third sector organisation)

Theme 4: Raise awareness

Respondents frequently stated that raising awareness among the general public would contribute significantly towards removing barriers. In particular, respondents mentioned that often people who experience VAWG are not aware of the support available, what they should do, and how to ask for help. To address these obstacles, several respondents proposed awareness raising campaigns and targeted outreach activities, especially among under reached groups. Raising awareness would also help signal that Scotland does not tolerate VAWG and all perpetrators will be punished, while also teaching the community to identify the signs of VAWG.

"Supports available and what to expect should be clearly explained in any promotional materials. For example, who they will talk to, what type of support is offered, confidentiality and information relating to escalation, Who support is for should also be explained clearly, for example, non-binary young people or self-identifying young women including trans women. Awareness raising campaigns about unhealthy relationships, domestic abuse and support services should be targeted at trusted adults, such as parents, teachers your youth work professionals, as well as young women themselves." (Third sector organisation)

Theme 5: Provide training to VAWG workforce

Some respondents raised concerns about the lack of appropriate training among VAWG workforce and considers this is one of the main barriers facing women and girls as they feel they will not receive the help they need and therefore avoid reaching out to the appropriate services. In particular, respondents raising this theme believed that more training is required on trauma informed care, gender-sensitivity, and ensuring equal treatment of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

"Ensuring that professionals across a wide range of agencies have the knowledge and skills they need to identify and respond to women, children and young people experiencing VAWG in a way that is appropriate to their role, is critical in removing the barriers currently experienced by women, children and young people. […] A national approach to training and workforce development (with the opportunity for training models to be adapted to respond to local need, priorities and infrastructure) was highlighted as a positive approach to make best use resources and expertise as well as ensuring consistency of skills across the country." (Multi-agency network)

Theme 6: Improve signposting and inter-organisational cooperation

The next most common theme was the need for greater cooperation among organisations providing services for VAWG, both statutory and third sector. Answers indicated that one of the barriers facing women and girls is identifying the appropriate services and transitioning across them. As a result, a more integrated system would allow organisations to work seamlessly and signpost efficiently to each other.

"They should be provided centrally, there should be a national helpline/site available in multiple languages and joined up services clearly accessible to all women free from judgement and of a guaranteed standard regardless of postcode. Schools, hospitals, community services should be able to clearly signpost the route to help for women and girls experiencing violence." (Individual)

Theme 7: Improve the relationship between support services and people experiencing VAWG

A number of responses suggested improving the relationship between support services and people experiencing VAWG. Respondents highlighted that women and girls are self-excluding from VAWG services because they feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Some answers indicated that women and girls are reluctant to use VAWG services because they do not feel they will be taken seriously. Other respondents stated that there have been cases where reports of domestic abuse have been dismissed or placed on secondary priority. Moreover, other groups of respondents considered that statutory services often take the side of the perpetrator.

Most responses highlighted that a cultural change is needed within the VAWG workforce to improve public perception and confidence in these services. Moreover, responses stated that this could be achieved through appropriate training and then reinforced through public awareness campaigns.

"Attitudinal barriers (such as victim blaming) can be addressed through training and awareness about VAWG particularly in public services where they may be less specialist knowledge and expertise. Strong leadership from the Scottish Government to increase public awareness about VAWG could support an increased awareness in society and help support a change in attitudes." (Organisation)

"Unfortunately, many woman and girls believe that they will receive discrimination and 'labelling' because they have experienced violence, they fear acknowledging their experience and seeking support might bring them isolation and shame." (Third sector organisation)

Theme 8: Involve victims of VAWG

Lastly, respondents believed that in order to remove barriers from accessing VAWG services, it is vital to involve women who experienced VAWG in the design of the services and listen to their feedback. In particular, service co-design would ensure that lessons learned and best practice are integrated in the services, as well as help victims of VAWG feel included.

"There needs to be employment pathways into VAWG's services to increase representation - this way staff will understand survivors' perspectives but also survivors will see someone who looks/is like them within the services, which might encourage them to trust and try the services." (Third sector organisation)



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