Domestic and sexual violence services join forces in partnership covering every London borough, providing approximately £6 social return for every £1 invested in life-saving services, new research from Solace Women’s Aid shows.
A new report published today evidences the efficiency and quality of services provided by the Ascent Advice & Counselling (A&C) partnership, which supports women and girls across London who have been affected by all forms of violence and abuse. Between 2013 and 2015 the Partnership helped a staggering 24,206 women to improve their safety, better manage their mental health, reduce medication, increase self-esteem and confidence and improve their relationship with children and family. While catastrophic funding cuts persist at a local level as budgets are slashed, protecting these ring-fenced funds across-London is an absolute priority to ensure the Partnerships life-saving work continues.
One vulnerable woman explains, ‘Once I approached the Ascent partner I started to understand about my options and my rights. This took me and my son out of the homelessness and destitution state I was in. Without the Ascent partner I would have been lost. Without them I would probably have committed suicide. Everything that has happened to me has been thanks to the great support and help I have received from them.’
The size and scope of the Partnership, which comprises 14 organisations and covers all 33 boroughs in London, enables more women to be able to receive vital, consistent, high-quality services which might otherwise be inaccessible. Women are able to get the support they want and need, regardless of where they live, so it’s no longer a “postcode lottery” when it comes to escaping and recovering from abuse. Of the 24,206 women and girls the Partnership supported, 77% were from BME groups. This indicates the success of the partnership in supporting specific hard to reach communities. The experience and expertise of the partner organisations means they understand what is needed to support women on the journey from abuse to recovery. Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, lead partner for Ascent A&C, explains that ‘every woman who asks us for help has experienced horrific abuse but every woman’s experience is unique. Recovery is not a linear, one-way street so it’s vital that we deliver holistic and tailored support to reflect survivors’ individual experiences’.
Moving on from abuse can involve a complex web of activity including safety planning, advice, help with housing, group support, legal advocacy, emergency accommodation, counselling and language or culturally specific support. Often a combination of these services, which a woman can dip in and out of, is essential to help rebuild her life free from violence.
Sioned Churchill, Trust for London says ‘Building up robust evidence about the value of specialist advice and support for women who are experiencing domestic violence, has been a real challenge for many years. The first priority will always be to offer that support to ensure women’s safety, but this report also shows the importance of taking time out to capture the difference the work has made in a consistent way. As a result, there is now strong evidence about the huge impact of the Ascent partnership’s work, and the enormous benefit this brings to the women themselves, as well as society as a whole. It also highlights the value of directing our financial resources to where they will make the most difference to women’s lives’.
The Ascent A&C partnership’s ‘model of excellence’ is evidenced via external evaluation using Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. The executive summary and the full impact report is available to download at here: www.solacewomensaid.org/social-impact-2015