Commissioners of domestic abuse services must consider the support needs of victims from migrant and ethnically diverse communities.
They must also consider the provision of ‘by and for services’.
In response, Cleveland OPCC conducted a consultation with a wide range of ‘by and for’
voluntary and community sector organisations, ethnically diverse focused services, and
providers of specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence services across Cleveland.
The consultation informed an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) to review the specific needs of
domestic abuse victims from ethnically diverse communities.
The EIA also looked at whether their needs are currently being met by the organisations available in Cleveland.
The EIA, published on Cleveland OPCC website, identified a mixture of views from victims from ethnically diverse communities.
Mix of Views
Some preferred a mainstream provider disassociated from their own communities. Others wanted to see increased cultural capability and a more representative workforce within mainstream provision. Some consultees wanted specific ‘by and for’ provision.
Ultimately, victims from ethnically diverse communities wanted more choice and greater diversity than services currently offered.
Furthermore, consultees felt that historical commissioning processes, especially in relation to funding or procurement of domestic abuse provision, did not adequately reflect the needs of an ethnically diverse range of communities.
When both mainstream and ethnically diverse organisations have been funded by commissioners, there is a frustration – including among groups offering specialist services – that funded services either signpost into non-funded organisations without recognising the costs, or do not refer at all when a more specialist or culturally appropriate service can provide greater understanding and support.
There is a growing and dynamic diversity within the population of Cleveland. As such, there is need for service provision that is more flexible and responsive to these changes.
The EIA recommended the following:
- Seek to provide an increased offer of support to a range of victims from ethnically diverse communities. This will be for a period of up to 12 months. The pilot will gather evidence to inform future commissioning of domestic abuse services.
- Explore how a more diverse range of voluntary and community sector organisations could be grant-funded to support ethnically diverse communities.
- Consider the feasibility of a voluntary development agency (VDA) brokering relationships and connections across Cleveland with voluntary sector organisations (VCOs) and groups. The VDA would manage a small grants fund to support delivery and monitor the quality, capability and accountability of grass roots VCOs. It would also contribute to evidence to inform the ongoing needs assessment and effectiveness of a more diverse range of services supporting domestic abuse victims from ethnically diverse communities.
- Conduct further research to understand ethnically diverse communities within Cleveland
- Map current ethnically diverse provision and conduct a gap analysis exercise
- Conduct a deep dive of community services for ethnically diverse communities to increase understanding of what support is available at different stages of the recovery journey. Also research would identify where specialist victim provision is available beyond commissioned services
- Work with services that support migrants to understand specific barriers, including the impact on those without recourse to public funds
- Engage with victims/service-users from ethnically diverse communities across mainstream and by and for services. This is to assess impact of current provision on the support and recovery journey of victims
- Review partnership arrangements between mainstream and services for ethnically diverse communities. This is to better understand the quality of collaboration and impact on victim’s choice and support needs. Explore the feasibility of how mainstream specialist services can access, or spot purchase, victim support provision for ethnically diverse communities in response to victims preference for a worker/advocate from an ethnically diverse community to work alongside a specialist provider
The Way Forward
Following discussions, it was agreed that Catalyst, Stockton-on-Tees, would lead on managing a Cleveland-wide small grants Fund of £30,000. This would be on behalf of all four VDAs. Catalyst was allocated a 15% management fee of £4,500.
Grants of up to £5,000 per applicant/organisation would be available to ethnically diverse and migrant VCOs to support victims of domestic abuse from those communities.
This would effectively lead to `bridging the gap’ between victims from ethnically diverse communities, the criminal justice system and commissioned domestic abuse services.
The OPCC has informed Commissioned domestic abuse services across Cleveland and the North East Regional representative of the domestic abuse commissioner’s office of the plan to deliver this project as a 12-month pilot to test the approach.
Re-assurances have been provided that this funding does not reduce the amount committed to commissioned domestic abuse providers.
This approach offers increased support to domestic abuse victims from ethnically diverse communities.
However, capability and competency around the risk assessment practices of VCOs from non specialist organisations will be assessed as part of the grant process in the context of proposed activity.