Evaluation of the special funds for the sexual violence VCS

    The Government Equalities Office commissioned Si and Jane Ellis Consulting to evaluate two central government crisis funds which were established to support the Sexual Violence community and voluntary sector.

    This fund responded to research that showed the voluntary and community organisations that provide support for survivors of rape and sexual violence were particularly vulnerable. Many were continually facing the prospect of closure, had no stable funding and so were unable to strategically develop. This financial instability also jeopardised the sustainability of the services these organisations provided to vulnerable women and men.

    Research began with interviews all funded organisations and a number of national stakeholders. A learning event was held with the purpose of helping the research team understand the views of the sector and as an opportunity to promote learning and networking between organisations.

    Throughout the evaluation monitoring information was analysed to find out how funding had been used. Finally, in-depth research with eight organisations was conducted to find out more about how the fund had led to changes. This element sought an all-round view of organisations by interviewing not only staff but also local stakeholders, such as commissioners, and service users.

    A key finding was that most organisations had used the fund to cover core costs, such as salaries and rent. Although this allowed very valuable services at risk of closure to continue, it did not often lead to stability in the longer term. As one organisation said, the fund was ‘sustaining us in crisis’. This was partly due to the short-term nature of the funding, but research also exposed significant obstacles for these organisations to be able to work as equals in local partnerships.

    The research team concluded that the intervention made by central government through the fund had kept services open and accessible during the fund period. However it was clear that to ensure sexual violence support services are available to all women and men across England and Wales into the future, a longer term fund is needed. This would provide stability to these organisations and enable them to work on building sustainable local services.

    Client: Government Equalities Office

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