Beyond survival: resource for organisations working with child abuse survivors

This toolkit provides resources to enable survivor support organisations become more sustainable.

Part Three: Sustainability

As noted in Part One, sustainability is partly about organisations and their capacity to keep developing and delivering services over time. This guide introduces eightthemes for sustainable services, each with five indicators.

But sustainability is also about impact, making a lasting difference. We have developed five themes relating to sustainable impact, focusing not just on survivors but on making other services and policies more accessible and appropriate too.

3.1 Indicators of sustainable survivor support services

1. Survivor focused
2. Staff capacity and wellbeing
3. Quality and processes
4. Strategy and governance
5. Outcomes, learning and improvement
6. Finance and resources
7. Flexibility and development around a solid core
8. Working in partnership

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 1. Survivor focused

Who are you trying to reach?

What methods do you use to help survivors tell you what they want?

What is your organisation doing to build trust with survivors? How long might that take?

How much influence should the people you work with have to have?

Are there opportunities for survivors’ voices to come through? What could you do to help get them out there?

Do you have a spectrum of how people can get involved and increase their support?

1. Survivor focused Your notes
1.1 We have a good understanding of the need for our service and know who we are trying to reach with it.
1.2 We work in person centred ways. Our systems and practice are trauma informed.
1.3 We work in partnership with survivors to identify and work towards their personal outcomes.
1.4 Our work is informed by active survivor participation – we have a range of ways to help survivors to tell us what they want.
1.5 We provide a range of support and levels of support.

See the SAY Women case study for an example of a survivor-focused engagement.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 2. Staff capacity and wellbeing

Are you the best people to be doing this work?

Where is your time best spent?

Are you spread too thin? What can you achieve if you are? Do you recognise the early signs that you need additional support?

Do you know what you’re good at? Can you achieve your goals with the capabilities you’ve got?

Is any of your work high demand and low value?

What can you learn from other organisations that have the same staffing/resourcing numbers but use them differently?

Can you create creative opportunities for staff and survivors to contribute ideas?

2. Staff capacity and wellbeing Your notes
2.1 We fulfil our duty of care to staff, prioritising wellbeing at work.
2.2 Staff are working within capacity and are supported to recognise when this is stretched to unhealthy or unsustainable levels.
2.3 When we cannot meet demand for our services we find alternatives, for example reviewing referral arrangements, or referring to other organisations.
2.4 All staff and volunteers have clear support and supervision, direction and know their boundaries.
2.5 Staff and volunteers have opportunities to develop within – and beyond – their current roles, with time for reflection, learning and ‘off task’ activities.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 3. Quality and processes

How do you measure your processes so you can show what works – and sustain it?

How much reach is enough? How good is good enough?

How much are you willing to invest in quality control?

What sorts of organisations can you benchmark and compare against?

How will you know good practice when you see it?

What would quality look like in the context of your service?

What quality standards apply?

Maybe evaluating processes could help you benchmark practice

3. Quality and processes Your notes
3.1 Our organisation works effectively within its constitution, working within budget and agreed timelines.
3.2 We work to appropriate quality standards or organisational/professional codes of conduct, e.g. NESTrauma Framework, Nolan principles
3.3 We monitor demand and work within our capacity to manage quality and safety.
3.4 We continuously improve the quality and safety of our services, for example making training and learning available to staff; benchmarking and learning from other organisations.
3.5 We identify good practice, identifying, applying and sharing learning and spreading good practice in other organisations.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 4. Strategy and governance .

Has your board reviewed the mission and strategy to make sure they are still relevant?

Are you clear on what change you want to see in the world?

Is everyone clear on the boundaries between management and governance?

Do trustees and staff know what they want and need from each other?

What other strategies/frameworks are out there?

How does a trauma informed approach reflect your core organisational values?

How have other organisations achieved the same things you want?

When was your last board skills audit done?

4.Strategy and governance Your notes
4.1 We look ahead, with planning cycles and strategies for the next three to five years.
4.2 Our board and/or committees are diverse, well established, and have the right skills and experience to guide our work.
4.3 We regularly review the make—up and effectiveness of our board and/or committee.
4.4 Trustees and staff are clear on their respective responsibilities. Board meetings are spent on appropriate business, including Board-only time.
4.5 We fulfil our regulatory and legal requirements, e.g. prompt and accurate annual returns to OSCR, Companies House.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 5. Outcomes, learning and improvement

What does good data look like for you, your funders and survivors?

Who is evidence for?

Can you apply the principles of person centred planning to evaluation?

How can you help funders hear people’s stories?

What data do you already have and how much more do you really need?

What other data sets exist (e.g. Scottish Attitudes survey)?

Who else might be interested in measuring the same thing?

5. Outcomes, learning and improvement Your notes
5.1 We can evidence the ongoing need for our service.
5.2 We work in outcome-focused ways. Our outcomes are based on and measured by what matters to survivors.
5.3 We monitor our performance and evaluate our impact. We know what evidence is needed by funders, commissioners and other bodies and publish our outcomes and results appropriately.
5.4 Our outcomes are linked to other frameworks as appropriate. We use internal and external data effectively to help us learn and improve.
5.5 Our organisational culture encourages learning and improvement. Innovations from different services are shared across the organisation.

See the Mind Mosaic case study for an example of how outcome-based planning can improve an organisation’s focus and functions.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 6. Finance and resources

Should you be looking to earn more – or spend less?

Does being funded for one thing stop you from doing something else?

Is your fundraising cost effective?

Do fundraisers get a chance to meet the people they’re helping?

Are there different messages and purposes for reaching different audiences?

Would it be more cost effective to campaign/raise awareness in partnership with other organisations who have a shared interest?

Is your challenge about funding, communications, marketing or stakeholder engagement?

What happens if your marketing strategy is successful?

How well known is your organisation, and for what? What do you want to be known for?

6. Finance and resources Your notes
6.1 We have the right resources to deliver quality services (including funding, staffing, skills, knowledge, partnerships)
6.2 We have long-term plans for development and finances, including an effective strategy for income generation, marketing and communication.
6.3 We know the true costs of our work, review them regularly, and adjust our activities in response to changing times.
6.4 We have a reserves policy and a clear strategy for the circumstances in which we would use reserves to fill a funding gap or invest in development.
6.5 We manage and report on finances competently, including cashflow. We provide management accounts in advance of every board meeting.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 7. Flexibility and development around a solid core

How has your organisation managed change and adaptation in the past?

If you want to try out new work, could you set up satellite projects/initiatives?

What can you learn from how other organisations innovate?

How does your organisation deal with innovation and creativity? Does the squeaky wheel get the grease, or does the nail that sticks up get hammered down?

Do you have a change management policy?

How do you manage culture change?

7. Flexibility and development around a solid core Your notes
7.1 We are flexible in our approaches but are clear on our purpose – and our strengths. We make decisions about new opportunities based on achieving our priorities.
7.2 We navigate and manage external pressures (e.g. money, societal changes, other stakeholders) without compromising our values.
7.3 Knowing our history helps us, it doesn’t hold us back. We are clear about what we need to sustain but we are confident to drop approaches that are no longer relevant.
7.4 We develop new approaches in response to evidence and need.
7.5 We strike the right balance between continuity and change.

See the Moira Anderson Foundation case study for an example of development around a solid core.

Indicators of sustainable survivor support services - 8. Working in partnership

Who are your potential partners?

How do you make sure there are referral routes back to you if another service doesn’t accept a referral for someone?

How does your organisation assess potential partners?

Do your partners share your vision?

Are your partners organisations – or people?

What can you do to make collaboration worth it for partners? What do your partners get out of working with you?

How does your organisation tap into the skills and emerging ideas the sector has?

8. Working in partnership Your notes
8.1 We invest time in building trust with survivors, partner organisations and others. We and our partners have clear mutual understanding, vision and expectations. Our work is valued by our partners and funders.
8.2 We have good, up to date knowledge of other organisations and work in partnership with them where appropriate to meet survivors’ needs.
8.3 We have established referral routes with partner organisations so that people experience joined up, appropriate support.
8.4 We work with other organisations to achieve greater impact and influence, for example: developing new approaches to common challenges; campaigning and awareness raising.
8.5 When campaigning, marketing and communicating, we tailor our messages for different audiences.

3.2 Indicators of sustainable impact

Sustainability doesn’t mean sustained. Even if an organisation in its current form no longer exists, it may make a lasting difference. There may be an impact on survivors’ quality of life and other agencies’ and communities’ understanding that can be sustained into the future.

We have split sustainable impact into five themes:

1. Survivors experience short and long-term benefits of support

2. Our services support independence, choice and control

3. Other organisations are more aware of and respond to survivor support needs.

4. Policy responds to evidence of survivors’ changing needs

5. Communities are better informed: Awareness is raised, stigma reduced and supportive action taken

It is hard to achieve and measure our influence on other organisations, policies and communities, but these are important goals to work towards if we want to make a sustained difference. Survivor support organisations can contribute to long term change even by raising awareness, educating others and facilitating ongoing dialogue.

Indicators of sustainable impact 1. Survivors experience short and long-term benefits of support

What evidence is there that your model works?

How do survivors define success, and their goals for working with you?

How do you collect and share the feedback you receive?

Can you incorporate evaluation into your everyday activities?

What’s difference do you want to make?

1. Survivors experience short and long-term benefits of support (See outcome framework for other relevant outcomes) Your notes
1.1 Survivors understand their rights and know where to go for information, support or advice. (This might include knowing they are able to re-enter support when needed.)
1.2 Survivors have increased resilience, coping strategies and resources for life (e.g. self-management; self-advocacy skills).
1.3 Survivors have increased confidence and are supported to articulate their needs.
1.4 Survivors are less isolated, with increased access, inclusion, and contribution to community life and activities.
1.5 Survivors achieve their own goals for improving their situation or quality of life.

Indicators of sustainable impact 2. Our services support independence, choice and control

Do you have an open door – or a revolving door?

How do you help people to move on?

Do you have a role or responsibility to introduce people to other services?

If clients want to give something back to your service, can they?

How does your organisation involve survivors in how it is run?

Are you trying to sustain your service – or its impact?

Where is the power and where does it need to be?

How does your services acknowledge and address power imbalances?

What are the limits on choice and control in your service?

2.Our services support independence, choice and control Your notes
2.1 Survivors own or are involved in making their own support plans, setting outcomes, reviewing progress and evaluating their support.
2.2 We know our limits and what we can – and can’t – do most effectively. We signpost people to other support where appropriate.
2.3 Informal networks and peer support groups are available.
2.4 We support people to develop self-management skills and use appropriate resources, toolkits, and support strategies.
2.5 People are empowered to make informed decisions.

Indicators of sustainable impact 3. Other organisations are more aware of and respond to survivor support needs.

What would help good practice to be embedded?

What partners do you have?

If your goal is to influence, is it okay if the thing gets done, even if it’s not you that does it?

Are there parts of your work you could equip other people to do, so you don’t need to?

How do you build the capacity of other organisations?

Do other organisations respect and involve you as a partner?

How do you share learning about what works?

If it’s not your job to educate other services, whose it?

3. Other organisations are more aware of and respond to survivor support needs. Your notes
3.1 Organisations have better access to trauma-informed information about supporting survivors.
3.2 Services are better informed by involving and learning from survivors and services.
3.3 Services make it easier for people to get support - removing barriers, reducing stigma
3.4 A greater number of professionals and services are aware of abuse, survivor needs and respond appropriately, including:
  • When someone discloses prior abuse
  • When making initial offers of support
  • Providing services sensitively
  • Making referrals
  • Appropriate information sharing where express permission is given
3.5 There are improved partnership responses to the risks and impact of abuse. There is evidence of different relationships being formed, and decisions being made, for the benefit of survivors.

See Mind Mosaic case study for an example of how one organisation went about some of these steps.

Indicators of sustainable impact 4. Policy responds to evidence of survivors’ changing needs

Do you know the aims and objectives of your local Health and Social Care Partnership/Integrated Joint Board ( IJB) and how you can link to those?

Have you articulated what difference you make to IJBs’ outcomes – and what would happen if you weren’t there?

How can you use your evidence of need to help make your case?

What costs do you save commissioners? And other services?

How can you raise your profile amongst services that can promote you to potential users? And to people who could influence IJBs?

Are you part of a national landscape?

Are you a member of any organisations that provide policy updates – and influence?

Who takes responsibility for policy engagement in your organisation?

4. Policy responds to evidence of survivors’ changing needs Your notes
4.1 We participate in relevant local and national fora to learn about and influence policy. We have the credibility, evidence and links to influence future policy (local and/or national).
4.2 We identify which national and local strategies we contribute to. Commissioners and policy makers know how we contribute to their strategies.
4.3 Survivors and groups report consistent, satisfactory involvement with policy making processes.
4.4 Trauma informed practice is recognised as a crucial element of other policy strands (social care eligibility and provision, health outcomes, adverse childhood events, etc.).
4.5 We are proactive in developing local (or national) policy, not just waiting for others to take the lead.

Indicators of sustainable impact 5. Communities are better informed: Awareness is raised, stigma reduced and supportive action is taken

Do you take active steps to change attitudes, or does it happen in other ways?

Who does your work ‘belong’ to?

What does prevention look like?

Are survivors and survivor-support groups visible and involved in community life?

Do awareness raising campaigns have to be done by you alone?

Can other organisations support awareness-raising, sharing the load?

What are the signs of stigma in your community?

How would you know when stigma has reduced?

6. Communities are better informed: Awareness is raised, stigma reduced and supportive action taken Your notes
5.1 Increased public discussion about child abuse and its impact.
5.2 Increased public understanding of abuse: survivors are believed, accepted, supported - and not ostracised
5.3 Our communities are knowledgeable about child abuse and its impact.
5.4 Communities take supportive action to improve prevention and/ or supports available to people who have experienced abuse.
5.5 Survivors are better connected and included within community life and activities.


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