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Support for regional commissioning of Violence Against Women in Wales

Natalie Hancock, VAWDASV Regional Advisor Mid and West Wales said: "The support, knowledge and professionalism IPC brought to this piece of work enabled it to become a vehicle of movement and positive change, in the landscape of VAWDASV Regional Commissioning."

  • Situation and task

  • What was the impact?

  • Key success factors

  • Situation and task

  • Situation and task

    The Mid and West Wales Commissioning Sub Group made up of commissioners from 4 local authorities and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner wanted to progress a more consistent, collaborative, and integrated approach to the commissioning of Violence Against Women Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) services across the region.

    A consultation exercise highlighted concerns about provision as:

    • Fragmented and inconsistent, with survivors facing a postcode lottery
    • Reactive and focused on crisis, rather than services that provided early intervention and prevention approaches
    • A lack of clarity about what services were available across the region, eligibility criteria and appropriateness to meet the needs of individuals

    IPC’s task was initially to develop an overarching regional service specification for VAWDASV services that commissioners across the 4 areas would use when they needed to recommission. The aim was that it would help to establish the concept of a ‘whole system’ approach to deliver protection and support as well as early intervention and prevention.

    This was seen to be a first step towards developing more consistent approaches and help to prepare the ground for combined commissioning activity in the future.

    Between November and May IPC delivered 3 interactive workshops with the commissioning sub-group and 1 workshop with providers to:

    • review the commissioning landscape across the region
    • learn about and discuss commissioning and procurement best practice
    • suggest key outcomes, measures and principles to include in a specification for services
    • consider what might be some of the benefits and challenges of implementing a new specification

    Drawing on the discussions with the Commissioning Sub Group and providers and with reference to Welsh Statutory Guidance and best practice from other areas, IPC drafted a service specification that was circulated for comment and a final version was agreed in May 2021.

    Following on from this successful piece of work, IPC were asked to facilitate a further 4 workshops in June/July with each local authority to help them:

    • consider where they were on the ‘commissioning cycle’
    • map their provision and resources against the requirements of the new service specification and identify gaps
    • agree how they would move forward with clear actions and timescales

    In August IPC wrote an end of project report summarising the findings of each workshop, and the key overarching themes for the region.

  • What was the impact?

  • What was the impact?

    The project resulted in a new overarching regional service specification that all 4 local authorities have agreed to adopt. It also helped to win ‘hearts and minds’ over to new approaches that aim to improve the range and accessibility of services and support to better protect, support and aid the recovery of victims and contribute to preventing VAWDASV from happening in the first place.

    IPC Principal Consultant Clare Dodwell who led the work said:

    Using a workshop approach worked really well. It provided time and space for commissioners and other key stakeholders to contribute to the development of the specification. We kept the momentum going by supporting them to develop their ‘next steps’ so that the specification quickly became a ‘live document’ that is helping to shape a more consistent and integrated approach across the region”.

  • Key success factors

  • Key success factors

    Key success factors for this project were:

    • Being clear about the purpose of the project and setting clear goals and timescales for achieving these
    • Being able to come up to speed quickly including to grasp the local and national landscapes for VAWDASV
    • Responding flexibly to the request for additional input
    • Clear communication between the Regional Coordinator and the Principal Consultant who carried out the work

    Natalie Hancock, VAWDASV Regional Advisor Mid and West Wales said:

    “The support, knowledge and professionalism IPC brought to this piece of work enabled it to become a vehicle of movement and positive change, in the landscape of VAWDASV Regional Commissioning. Previously, this had been an issue everyone was aware of, but not clear on how to address.

    IPC enabled us to understand our own problem, breakdown what we wanted to achieve and supported us to design a specification that would enable us to get there. We had a large geographical area, made up of complexities around differing commissioning models and practices, as well as existing provisions and dynamic local need, and very limited funding options.

    IPC brought us together and used our own knowledge and experience to push us to think innovatively, positively challenge each other and ask questions of our existing provision and practices. We now have a comprehensive, high level Regional Service Specification, that is supported by our specialist service providers. All commissioning partners are committed and working towards this common specification that will bring us closer towards a better response and outcome for those impacted by domestic abuse.”