Violence Against Women and Girls

 Linked closely to Wolverhampton University's Violence Against Women and Girls Research Cluster (VAWGRC), the ICRD also strides to make positive change in the same field. Please see below for some examples of the work we've achieved so far. 


West Midlands Iris Evaluation

The ICRD has been commissioned to deliver an evaluation of a project called ‘Iris’, which is an initiative devised by Changing Lives to provide dedicated personalized support to female sex-workers in Wolverhampton and Walsall. Iris has three stages of intervention: reaching out and engagement; recovery and resilience; and community integration. The rationale for Iris is that women with experience of sex-work, survival sex and/or sexual exploitation in this area are marginalised and exceptionally vulnerable. They tend to ‘bounce’ between crisis interventions (often serving repeated short-term prison sentences), whilst receiving superficial, poorly sustained support. They are more likely to misuse drugs/alcohol, be victims of childhood abuse/child sexual exploitation, be victims of domestic abuse and be victims of physical and sexual violence. As a result of repeated trauma, most will experience poor mental health and shame and stigma. In Wolverhampton and Walsall, they are particularly exposed to the harsh realities of living in boroughs characterised by significantly high deprivation, homelessness, unemployment, hospital stays for alcohol-related harm and opiate/crack use. The Iris project will address the complex needs of women sex-working in these areas, prioritising the most immediate issues identified (violence, exploitation and addiction). The process and impact evaluation will take place over two years and be underpinned by an ethos of community peer research.


'Lightbulb Moments': Evaluation of the Power to Change/Freedom Educational Self-help Programme

Commissioned by The Haven Wolverhampton in 2017, this seven-month evaluation sought to assess the effectiveness of the pilot delivery of the Power to Change Programme to clients of The Haven, and the subsequent Power to Change/Freedom Programme, a hybrid of the two evidence-based programmes. The objectives were to reveal the point at which women trigger a change in their thinking and decision-making processes, i.e., what women recognise was the turning point for them, to determine what could be included in this and other training programmes to help other women, and to establish if there is a point at which the programme is best delivered, e.g., early, during or when women exit services. Measures of effectiveness included weekly, mid-term and end-term self-completion evaluation forms, one-to-one sensitive interviews with clients who had taken part in the programme, interviews with the Training Coordinator and Peer Mentor, and psychological measures of self-efficacy (Generalised Self-Efficacy Scale) and self-esteem (Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale) delivered at the start and end of the programme to measure change over time. The evaluation concluded that the programme was very effective in increasing women’s self-esteem and self-efficacy, and their increased knowledge and understanding. There were multiple points at which changes in women’s thinking and decision-making processes were triggered, therefore there was no one lightbulb moment, but many. Potential additions to the programme were provided by the women themselves: they suggested local authority figures (e.g. social workers) should be invited to a session to raise awareness of the experiences of domestic abuse and to challenge the perceived victim-blaming attitudes of some authorities. They also requested more information of parental rights and more assertiveness training. The point at which the programme is best delivered could not be determined due to the multi-layered complexities of the uniquely individual lives lived by survivors of domestic abuse.


An Evaluation of Building Sustainable Change for VAWG: 'Making Change Happen'

Commissioned by Wolverhampton City Council in January 2018, the aim of this two-year evaluation is to provide an independent evidence-based appraisal of whether and how the project has achieved its objectives of embedding sustainable change in three main strands of innovation in the City of Wolverhampton. The objectives of the evaluation are to understand the mechanisms by which the project engenders sustainable change in relation to VAWG services, to develop a Theory of Change to inform a measurement framework by collecting baseline data, to investigate how (and how effectively) the project is working - process analysis, and to measure key outcomes - impact analysis. The evaluation will take a mixed methods approach comprising key informant interviews and analysis of monitoring and performance data.


An Evaluation of The Phoenix Project: Therapeutic drama for survivors of domestic abuse

The Phoenix Project, a six-day project delivered by Geese Theatre Company, worked with survivors of domestic abuse using drama and theatre-based techniques. The project was commissioned by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre as part of their ongoing Creative Learning Strategy to support the community and education. The Haven Wolverhampton partnered in this group-work project by supporting recruitment of survivors of domestic violence to take part. A mixed-methods design demonstrated a meaningful positive change in participants’ wellbeing and improved wellbeing, increased confidence and self-worth, improved listening and communication skills, teamwork and sharing ideas, problem-solving and social engagement. Whilst short-term gains were demonstrated, we recommended the continuance of the project evaluation to investigate the long-term impact.”


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