Violence Against Women and Girls - Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Services minutes: July 2022

Minutes from the third meeting of the advisory group, held on 27 July 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lesley Irving

Advisory group attendees

  • Professor Angela O’Hagan
  • Katie Cosgrove (online)
  • Katie Kelly (online)
  • Malcolm Chisholm
  • Mukami McCrum (online)
  • Professor Philomena De Lima (online)


  • Dr Claire Houghton


  • Jane McAteer
  • Eleanor Horne
  • Beth Busby (online)

Items and actions


  • welcome
  • minutes of last meeting
  • the Call for Evidence (CfE) and engagement update
  • domestic abuse: frequency of head injury and implications for services
  • Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and health featuring two presentations, firstly on VAWG as a public health issue followed by a presentation by AG member
  • the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy, a presentation by SG officials
  • agenda for next meeting
  • future meeting dates is suggested as Wednesday 24 August (proposed Glasgow) 13:00 to 16:00
  • Tuesday 13 September (online) 10:00 to 13:00
  • AOB

Welcome and introductions: the Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, followed by a review of minutes of last meeting.

The AG agreed that format, such as the level of detail is suitable and accepted these as an accurate record of meeting two.


  • Secretariat to upload minutes to review webpage
  • Call for Evidence (CfE) and engagement update

The Chair thanked the AG for their input into the CfE. Sixty-three responses have been received on Citizen Space online portal. The Chair reminded the AG that a two week extension to the closing deadline can be made available upon request. 

The Chair noted that the Secretariat has procured external analysts to undertake the analysis of the CfE responses.

The AG noted statutory sector (health sector and local authority) responses were low. Perhaps this is because VAWG may still be seen by many as a third sector issue when in fact it is a public health issue, reinforcing ideas that the funding review only includes the third sector rather than looking at wider responsibility across all actors (statutory, third, government etc). The absence of local responses was noted as concerning, but it was hoped this may be addressed through VAWG partnership responses.

The AG noted that, from discussions they have had, it seems the review is still not reaching certain groups in terms of coverage. Those it does reach do not always appear to understand the scope of the review and therefore whether they are able to contribute – e.g. if they are not already in receipt of VAWG funding. The AG enquired as to whether there was additional analytical resource to allow wider engagement with communities. The AG suggested that the VAWP networks could assist with engagement.

The Secretariat noted that there will be local authority roundtables in September to try and capture evidence that may not come through the CfE.

The AG offered to use networks to cascade information, including SOLACE. It was noted a variety of engagement from written to in person sessions would be good for the review in ensuring a robust set of data for the recommendations

The Chair noted the recent introduction to the AG collaborative site of the engagement tracker which allows the AG to see all the past present and future engagements that the Chair is undertaking for the review. The AG are encouraged to review this and make contributions towards or attend any meetings of interest.

The AG noted the need for the review to keep intersectionality uppermost in its engagement and proactively connect with diverse and underrepresented communities.

The AG proposed that it could be useful for sector actors to evidence how they engage with communities on these issues.

There was discussion on how the review might seek to access the voices of those with unmet needs particularly in rural settings, where there is little understanding of services. The review should take into account that there may be a disconnect between what we hear and what is actually taking place in rural communities.

The review needs to consider how to ‘set women free’ to be able to speak about their needs and experiences without fear or concern that they are betraying their communities.

The AG noted that there is a lot to cover in terms of intersectionality and a broader scope of responses. With this in mind, the Chair might like to consider the value-add of all respondents being treated equally in terms of getting a meeting to discuss their response, especially in situations where their responses are outwith the scope of the review.

The Chair noted that the engagement schedule was developed as a blend of proactively seeking meetings and responding to requests. When the terms of reference were being developed, some groups offered to arrange events with service users so this was followed up, as were the majority of direct requests from respondents to the CfE. Direct requests were being prioritised by relevance to the scope of the review.

The AG expressed surprise at the current low response rate but also recognised that the response rate to online consultations can be fairly low anyway. Additionally, the summer is not always the best time to consult.

The AG asked if the SG has smaller organisation partners, community groups and portals that the review can be shared through. It was suggested that the Scottish Community Development Centre could be a useful contact to encourage participation from local residents’ associations This links to work on the SG cross government trawl and the ask that went through internal SG stakeholders to share the review but can be developed further as the review seeks to engage more women, children and young people.


  • the AG to reach out to SOLACE for spotlight or seminar with Lesley on the CfE
  • AG member to contact key players in Highlands on Equalities issues
  • domestic abuse, to consider frequency of head injury and implications for services

The Chair introduced Tom McMillan’s paper on the prevalence of head injury in women who have experienced VAWG, the impact on their behaviour and the implications for services. The author is keen to raise awareness of this issue in anyone who works with women affected by this issue, which is pertinent in terms of VAWG and the review. The AG noted that this was an interesting paper and that there was a need to look at policy around intervention. The high correlation of VAWG and women in prison was referenced.


  • review to consider engagement with female offenders
  • presentation one, outlining VAWG as a Health Issue
  • presentation two, outlining the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy
  • Q and A

The Chair thanked the presenters and noted that specific inclusion and consideration of those with protected characteristics is very welcome. A thorough discussion on the presentations followed.

The AG asked whether the mental health strategy goes far enough in marking out the importance of VAWG. It was suggested that the strategy may want to add specific chapters on VAWG to ensure that VAWG is highlighted as a key issue. Evidence from the Delivering Equally Safe funding shows that mental health impact and lack of support are highlighted as key issues.

The AG noted that there can be a disconnect between mental and physical health issues. GPs should operate a No Wrong Door model, meaning patients should only have to tell their story once. To what extent will GPs be taking a holistic approach to health, as often they are the gatekeepers to services and support for the general public? The mental health strategy is encouraging a move towards signposting relevant holistic support for all related issues. Community mental health teams, crisis services Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) etc are being folded into the National Care Service (NCS). There is an aim to reach parity between mental and physical health needs and the NCS will use an ethical procurement model. The links with the NCS were also considered and how its proposals for ethical procurement might be relevant for the review.

The AG proposed doing a policy/spend analysis of strategies, their reference to gender and gender based violence (GBV), specific equalities objectives that are within them and then analysis of stated objectives in relation to spend. How are all those funding streams monitored and evaluated, what objectives are they seeking to meet and, how are those objectives evaluated - how is progress monitored and evaluated. This would identify deficiencies in practice and help to shape the recommendations of the review.

Discussion took place on the importance of organisations and services using upstreaming approaches to ensure the root causes of VAWG are addressed. The AG highlighted that the review will adopt a systems approach and emphasised the need for strong frameworks in which it can map its recommendations, situating these within a public health context may improve landing within the human rights framework through progressive realisation. There is an opportunity to make a case for a systems reset which would then lead to a call for systematic change as to how mental health and VAWG are approached. Monitoring and evaluation must be resourced and have clear objectives and accountability. When considering its recommendations the review must consider how policy silos and monitoring and evaluation can be restructured and transformed in order to address the current issues rather than replicating them. 

Issues were flagged around data disaggregation, recording, and silos within the SG divisions and funding. It was noted that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, that a lack of equality based approaches and tools then leads to a lack of equality data which then results in an inability to properly assess the impacts for VAWG and protected characteristics.

Some elements to consider are: culture change, accountability structures, leadership (collective forms of leadership), partnerships and shared values, and infrastructure. What can current or transformed structures do to support services to be better, rather than enforce approaches. The review should consider a transformational systems approach. Another important element is policy buy-in, ensuring that those implementing the policy have capacity and understanding as to why it’s important. The review will consider whether the current systems and approaches are defunct due to having been constructed in a previous era making them much better suited to problems of the past. In addition to this, a person centered approach that is trauma informed is essential to the review’s recommendations.


  • Secretariat to connect the AG to NCS and mental health policy officials who can meet the AG to explain changes to the health landscape
  • SG Officials to send the AG Medication Assisted Treatment Standards Reports
  • an AG member to share round some resources on policy/ “problem” approaches, Carol Lee Bacchi
  • the Secretariat and the Chair to take forward a policy/spend analysis exercise
  • agenda for next meeting
  • dates confirmed by the group
  • there was discussion on face-to-face meetings and agreement to do a further hybrid meeting next time before holding the September meeting online


  • for the next meeting the Secretariat are to organise a venue in Glasgow
  • AOB
  • Secretariat will put actions and outcomes into an Objective Connect folder. An email of this update will be sent soon, the Parliamentary Questions on VAWG funding/references will be included in this folder



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