Violence Against Women and Girls - Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Services minutes: 18 May 2022

Minutes and agenda items from the first meeting of the group, held on 18 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Lesley Irving, Chair
  • Professor Angela O’Hagan, Advisory Group
  • Dr Claire Houghton, Advisory Group
  • Katie Cosgrove, Advisory Group
  • Katie Kelly, Advisory Group
  • Malcolm Chisholm, Advisory Group
  • Mukami McCrum, Advisory Group
  • Professor Philomena De Lima, Advisory Group
  • Jane McAteer, Secretariat
  • Eleanor Horne, Secretariat
  • Beth Busby, Secretariat

Items and actions


  • welcome and introductions
  • ways of working
  • terms of reference
  • phases of the review
  • Domestic Abuse: Harnessing Literature Interationally under COVID-19) update
  • current funding arrangements in Scotland
  • future meeting dates (Wednesday 22 June, 10:00 to 13:00 and 27 July, 10:00 to 13:00)


Welcome and introductions

The Chair and members of the Advisory Group (AG) introduced themselves giving a very brief summary of their bios.

Actions: members to contact Secretariat if they wish to make any amendments to their bios by 25 May 2022.

Ways of working

The group confirmed it was comfortable using eRDM Connect, and contacting one another and the Secretariat.

The Chair encouraged participation in making suggestions for agenda items/presenters. She also reminded AG of the sensitive nature of debates, topics and discussions that may happen at the meetings and asked AG to keep discussions confidential until all have agreed the outcome and how it will be communicated.

Actions: AG to flag any issues with eDRM or communication to Secretariat.

Terms of reference

There was discussion within the group on specific points of the terms of reference (ToR).

Specifically, whether the review seeks to overturn current definitions of trauma informed specialist service provision and is the review anticipating recommending legislative change when considering the method of protection in Scottish law. It was highlighted that the ToR should be clear regarding the wording around the optimum length of funding periods, ie that the optimum length is targeted at services and not service users.

It was noted that the ToR evolved through cross referencing a number of documents and discussion with a huge range of stakeholders, in addition to the AG and were not given to the review by the Scottish Government (SG). Advice was given to only include that which the review will touch upon, and to explicitly exclude anything the review would not touch upon in the scope.

It was flagged that there are barriers around the inclusion of children and young people. There was also discussion on the complexity of sexual exploitation and how in/effective previous interventions have been. The group discussed lack of consistency of service quality and scope of current provision. This review could be an opportunity to enshrine violence against women and girls (VAWG) services in legislation, potentially ending variations in availability.

The Chair noted that legislation isn’t always a ‘silver bullet’, but is a possible route to go down.

There was agreement that there should be no limit on the time length that services can be accessed for and any confusion about that in the ToR should be rectified. This review should ensure that all women, children and young people who require support have equity of access to the same level and type of service, tailored to specific regions and groups and are supported to overcome any barriers to that.

The group agreed that the review must address all forms of VAWG. It is not always clear in historic discussions where children and young people fit so current discussions on this will need to remain active and ongoing. This is an issue that came up with the Equally Safe strategy initially, as well as some current SG VAWG legislation. The role of the VAWG multi agency partnerships should be considered. The review should also consider how much of the current funding is focused on prevention and how this should be addressed within the review.

The group considered how the review will support and involve service users in decision making and ensuring that contributions are meaningful. Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 have impacted how people view safeguarding. It was suggested that the review look at the work development agencies are doing to negate any risks. The communications from the review must be conscious of disempowering and colonising language, especially in the funding landscape. In the work done on equity there is often a focus on culture and religion for ‘minority’ women, conversely for ‘majority’ women there is a tendency to focus on structural issues. How can the review take an approach that is centered in equal treatment of all groups, accounting for all the structures that impact them, rather than making cultural assumptions. The review must ensure that intersectionality is at the forefront of all of its activities.

Members agreed that the review must be sensitive to the fact that in rural communities, ‘economies of scale’ is not a viable mode of operation. The review should consider other models that are currently being used elsewhere and those that are not yet in operation – perhaps being open to theoretical model testing. The review must always be aware of the context within which the services will be operating and focus on removing as many barriers to access as possible.

COVID-19 was also cited as an opportunity to gather information, change the dialogue and highlight what the pandemic exposed that we didn’t understand before. A minimum standard and rights based approach can help to tackle issues of ‘place’ ie the context and geography in which people live. No ‘one size fits all’ approach can solve these issues.

Action: AG to share any changes to ToR by 25 May 2022

The phases of the review

The group asked about the purpose of the cross government trawl, and it was clarified that this was to ascertain the extent of cross-portfolio work on VAWG and funding streams across SG. It was also noted that local authority and third sector funders would also be looked at – this will be used to map out the current funding envelope.

There was discussion as to whether the Call for Evidence (CfE) needs to be open for longer so that organisations and service users have a greater opportunity to contribute. It can take a long time to prepare for these conversations properly, so the review needs to be conscious to give fair and reasonable opportunity to all groups that wish to contribute.

Action: Chair and Secretariat to work with the group on a wider participation and engagement strategy in June.

Domestic Abuse: Harnessing Learning Internationally under (COVID-19)

There was a short presentation on DAHLIA-19 and the conference which some members attended. The group reflected three key themes from the presentation: digital, community response and co-production ie community specific barriers, silos in organisations that dropped during the pandemic with more collaborative leadership. Group members then discussed how we can make the most of these and bring them into the review’s recommendations. It was noted that this presentation, although displaying great promise in specific areas (outlined in the key three themes above), also throws up big questions about scalability, access and equitability, which the AG and review must consider.

The group asked what analysis of the VAWG funding did the Equality Unit do, which variables did they use and how did they manage to follow the money?

The group noted that access to early abortion services was improved across the country, and asked that the review considers this success story and continues to collect others going forwards as learning.


  • Secretariat to circulate slides and reports from session
  • Secretariat to factor Equality Unit analysis of funding into cross government trawl of current SG VAWG work

Current funding arrangements in Scotland

Broadly the group felt that the background reading was useful. However there was a feeling it did not go far enough in specific areas, such as locating our focus in the scope of broader national conventions, the maximisation of available resources, and principles of non-regression and tackling known discrimination. Questions were raised about absence of the UNCRC and wider Gender Based Violence (GBV) which needs wider instruments and wider scope.

If the review is looking at all forms of child abuse and the needs of children who experienced child sexual abuse (CSA), further exploration beyond anything covered in these papers will be required. Adults who experienced CSA are not mentioned or included at all which is another gap to be bridged. There is an opportunity to have a harmonious approach to VAWG and CSA within the scope of this review. The Chair noted past challenges in this area, but indicated this should be within scope, which members agreed with.

It was observed that there are still missing needs, not picked up by these assessments such as long-term trauma informed counselling which is not offered by any/ all of the current service providers. These should be included in the review. 

The group felt that the review should pay particular attention to where the money lands and how it translates/ what it delivers, for example, do some of our current systems have inequalities inbuilt, what is the impact of public service reform, are some of the systems and services overlapping each other and impacting one another’s ability to work? Can the review define what is meant by a multi-agency and collaborative approach and what it should achieve? Furthermore, taking the example of minority women in rural areas, the specialism is unlikely to be there within local services, so how can the review ensure access for such women? The support and thinking is not currently joined up.

The group was reminded to frame the work around Human Rights principles of ‘Respect, Protect and Fulfil’, when thinking about which actions all agencies take and how government money is directed, bringing alignment of the vision and processes under those principles.

The group felt that the review must concentrate on how these services operate for the women, children and young people who use them as many issues, including VAWG, can be swept up in ‘political point scoring’ instead of being informed by those with lived experience. As such, particular care is needed in order to ensure we are not reinforcing existing inequalities and barriers. The Chair noted the AG must be ambitious in the design and implementation of this review and its recommendations.

Action: members to share further comments with the group.

Agenda for next meeting

Future meeting dates

  • Wednesday 22 June, 10:00 to 13:00
  • Wednesday 27 July, 10:00 to 13:00

Dates confirmed by the group. Discussion on face-to-face meetings and agreement we would meet in person going forward.


  • next meeting – Secretariat to book room
  • Secretariat to send around more suggested dates


The Chair mentioned an Open Government Partnership online event on 24 May about GBV data collection, which members could attend.

The Chair also informed members that the Secretariat could provide a ‘fix’ for the many email notifications generated by Objective Connect.


  • Secretariat to send around OGP invites
  • Secretariat to send around Objective Connect notification instructions
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