Keeping up efforts to tackle domestic abuse
With one in four women experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime, violence against women has huge implications for a local population and for the agencies that support it. Despite reductions in local area grant, Blackpool has successfully commissioned support services for the next four years.
Domestic abuse is not just a community safety issue: it’s directly relevant to health, children and adults safeguarding, mental health, probation and more. More than 40 agencies are involved in Blackpool’s Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Partnership. As a commissioner you have an interest in persuading local agencies to join forces with you. Once you establish who’s on board, draw up measurable strategic priorities – a focus on increasing victim safety is a good place to start.
Map service user needs
A rigorous needs assessment with stakeholders will give you evidence to secure buy in. Align your two statutory needs assessments (equality impact and joint strategic needs) so that you’re not duplicating questions. Consultations with domestic abuse victims should be the ‘golden thread’ running through your mapping activities.
Stretch your budget
Consider tendering for a lengthy service contract. In Blackpool, we believe that a long contract fosters stability and enables services to concentrate on service provision rather than fundraising. Be creative and consider pooling allocations to make funding stretch further. Use evidence from the needs assessments to support this process and access new funds (Community Budgets, for example). Also consider how partner agencies could support your strategic priorities by dedicating staff resources in lieu of funds.
Structure services around the victim’s journey
Consider how domestic abuse victims might make contact with local agencies and commission services located along this pathway. Provide a holistic service which saves money while increasing support. Demographic profiling will also help you spot service gaps.
Build in tools to measure quality
With new commissioning arrangements on the horizon, all domestic violence services will need to evidence their effectiveness in the future. The national domestic abuse charity CAADA (www.caada.org.uk) provides an outcomes measurement service called Insights which independently evidences the impact that domestic abuse services have on victimsafety and maps the needs of local victims. Information gathered can be shared with local partners to create further support. CAADA also runs the UK’s independently verified quality assurance programme for domestic abuse services, Leading Lights, which provides evidence of service quality.
Set relevant targets
Using your outcomes measurement tools, ensure that services are set targets and key performance indicators which align with your strategic priorities. Consider measuring increased referrals, reductions in risk/cessation of abuse, increased perceptions of wellbeing and increased conviction rates.
Work on your relationships
Strong relationships are the key to success. It’s important that you can speak to your service providers to discuss problems, and that your service providers feel comfortable enough to challenge you – as a commissioner, you need to be open to this.
Andrea-Thorley-Baines, domestic abuse partnership manager, Blackpool BC