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.
What role should local authorities play in the provision of services to women, children and young people experiencing violence against women and girls?
238 responses were analysed for this question, consisting of 164 individual responses and 74 organisation responses. The organisations that answered this question included 8 local authorities/governments, 4 NHS organisations, 43 third sector organisations, and 19 classified as "other" or did not specify. There were seven themes emerging from the qualitative analysis of the free-text responses to this question,
Theme 1: Leading role and funding
The most common theme in this question was an invitation to local authorities to play a leading role in the provision of services to women, children and young people experiencing VAWG. According to respondents, a major part of their role is to provide funding for crucial support, while respondents called for a wider range of services to be offered.
Local authorities' general knowledge of their respective local area and its needs was deemed by many respondents to be highly important in the delivery of the required services to those experiencing VAWG. A sub-theme that also emerged was the need for local authorities to be the key point of initial contact for people to access services as they are aware of the services available within their locality and can better refer women to the closest service.
"Local authority can provide support through access teams and referrals on to associated services if required. LAs have a geographical awareness and scope which can assist mapping out services and availability to offer additional support to women and girls and can also link to school/education wellbeing resources." (Organisation)
Theme 2: Safe housing, refuge and emergency accommodation
Respondents frequently addressed the availability of safe refuge and housing accommodations for women, children and young people experiencing VAWG. Local authorities were asked by respondents to provide emergency housing and safe spaces for victims of VAWG, as this was important for them to feel safe and avoid abusers. This includes potential relocation of the family and long-term housing arrangements if appropriate.
"Local authorities should be able to provide emergency safe housing for women fleeing domestic violence and abuse." (Individual)
Theme 3: Signposting, coordinating services and organisations
Another point raised by many respondents was that local authorities should mainly play a leading role in bringing together and signposting organisations and services. According to respondents raising this point, local authorities should provide oversight and monitoring of the organisations operating in their area, helping people contact those services where needed. Some respondents also felt that it was important that local authorities promote the multi-agency response in their local area, and ensure organisations and services are performing well and are properly resourced with appropriate oversight and governance in place.
"Local authorities and other public sector agencies should be partners and enablers of the third sector VAWG organisations. They should take an overview of and review the needs of services, and support the third sector organisations, sharing information and knowledge, and if possible providing reources if necessary. This need not always be funding. I believe that funding for VAWG services should not only be managed locally. Local authorities have a difficult and complex role to play in their communities, with diminishing resources and challenging local politics. I don't believe that all local authorities have the resources, knowledge or expertise to manage the VAWG funding, nor the ability to implement national policy in this complex and sensitive area." (Individual)
Theme 4: Single-sex services and facilities
The need for local authorities to provide single-sex services and facilities to women, children and young people experiencing VAWG was commonly raised by responses to this question. Many respondents stressed that the loss of single-sex services and facilities erodes female privacy and deprives women and girls from feelings of security and comfort, especially in a time when they need it most. A sub-theme brought up in a few answers was that these services should be delivered by female-only staff.
Theme 5: Trauma-informed specialists and training
Many respondents mentioned that it was very important for specialists to be trained specifically on gender based violence and trauma-informed approaches as well as provide them with a clear understanding of the impacts of violence against women and girls and how best to support survivors to avoid further trauma.
"Specialist training should be given to local authorities to help them to support victims. When I required housing I would have appreciated being looked after by staff who had some knowledge and empathy for what me and my daughter had been through." (Individual)
The training should provide specialists and the wider workforce with a better understanding of the root causes and consequences of GBV. Additionally, it was mentioned that further training should be available to people already working in these services.
"What may be helpful, is for local authorities to participate in training and skills audits within their areas to ensure there is a connected and informed understanding of domestic abuse. We need to be able ask the question does knowledge and understanding link to providing safe and meaningful support for women and children. Strengthening confidence in practitioners is essential where they retain a questioning and curious mindset about their practice. Aligned with this is the assessment capabilities not to focus the blame and responsibility on the women. Our experience is that many women don't always necessarily understand what is happening and their emotional resilience has been depleted by their experiences of domestic abuse." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 6: Education, prevention and advocacy
A number of responses focused on the importance of education and early intervention, to help prevent VAWG. This included curriculums and workshops at school to educate young children on healthy attitudes and relationships. A sub-theme that emerged in some answers included local authorities being asked to offer advocacy and counselling services as part of their effort to combat VAWG.
"[…] local authorities have a role in the prevention of VAWG through education. The use of early and effective interventions, when young people either commit VAWG or are exposed to it through indirect means, could have a positive impact on and in reducing future violent behaviour." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 7: Social security and police protection
The last theme concerned the need for local authorities to offer support to women, children and young people experiencing VAWG in the form of social security, financial, legal, and healthcare support and advice. Finally, a few respondents highlighted that police services should be taking a more active approach to protect victims of VAWG, including escorting victims and stricter measures against perpetrators.
"The police should be able to escort victims to collect their personal items from their homes or the ability to detain perpetrators to allow victims to live in peace. I don't think victims should have to leave their homes. I think perpetrators should lose more. It never seems fair that it's the victim who has to seek refuge away from their familiar surroundings." (Individual)
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