Competition or collaboration by wlz5Qz


									  Competition or collaboration? Working together as the women’s


  We are all aware of the rapidly changing environment in which we are working. Not
  only is there less money available for the voluntary sector in the form of grants, the
  ‘opening up’ of service providers means organisations are more likely to compete
  against each other to deliver contracts. The myriad of policy changes that are
  occurring simultaneously – within the NHS, Local Authorities, police and community
  safety, devolved decision-making and public sector cuts – makes this a difficult time
  for women’s organisations. Not only do they have to deliver their services on tighter
  budgets, but they are often facing increasing demand for their services, more
  stringent monitoring and evaluation processes to demonstrate their effectiveness,
  having to link into local structures and decision-making forums, campaign for the
  visibility of women’s issues within these structures and so on.

  WRC is aware that for our membership organisations, many of which are small and
  have limited capacity, it is a daunting time. However, it is important to remind
  ourselves that many organisations share the same concerns and with increased
  collaboration and partnership working, we can keep on top of, as well as benefit
  from, the opportunities that these changes are bringing about.

  WRC has always campaigned for and supported specialist women’s organizations.
  We continue to emphasise their ongoing need and importance at a time when
  generic and bigger organisations are in better positions to bid for, and win service
  delivery contracts. In response to the limitations of commissioning practices that
  often overlook smaller and/or specialist organisations, partnership and collaboration
  between organisations is the best way to ensure that expertise is not lost through the
  closure of organisations and loss of staff. We want all women to get the services that
  best meet their needs.

  Current context

  This briefing was prompted primarily by the changes happening to Community
  Safety Partnerships and their funding, which is being transferred to the new Police
  and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), who will be elected into post in November.1 Their
  introduction also sees them becoming responsible for all violence against women
  funding streams. These will no longer be ring-fenced to tackle violence against
  women and girls (VAWG). While it is still unclear what funding streams this will

   See WRC’s briefing on these changes and how specifically they may affect the women’s sector here:

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
  actually include, we are concerned that it is likely to include Home Office funding for
  MARAC’s, ISVAs and IDVAs and Ministry of Justice funding for Rape Crisis Centres.
  After 2014/15, these funding streams may even cease to exist all together.

  With funding for women’s organisations delivering VAWG services on increasingly
  shaky ground, and the Localism Act ushering in an era of wholesale devolved
  decision-making and structures with little attention to equality issues, the impacts on
  the diversity and specialisms of the women’s sector could be dire.

  However, it also presents an opportunity for greater collaboration and partnership
  working to ensure that services are not duplicated, smaller and larger organisations
  can co-exist, and women can access the services that best meet their needs. In fact,
  this may be the only way in which smaller and/or specialist organisations can survive
  the next few years.

  One of the recommendations we make about the changes that are happening with
  the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners is for the VAWG sector in each
  police area to meet and begin to strategise as a sector. This is because PCCs will be
  responsible for commissioning local VAWG services as part of their remit to tackle
  crime, provide victim services and improve community safety. A collaborative
  approach by the women’s sector would ensure that all organisations, including those
  that are smaller and specialist are not sidelined.2
  Whilst an ‘intelligent’ commissioning3 approach would encourage a bigger range of
  service providers to deliver services, we know in reality that this rarely happens.
  Contracts are, in many cases, awarded to those organisations with the capacity to
  cover wide areas at a relatively low cost. For example, individual, women-only
  organisations delivering normally either ‘only’, ‘domestic’ or ‘sexual violence’ services
  (even though it is obviously so much more that ‘just’ this), will stand less of a chance
  of winning funding to deliver services because of their perceived ‘narrower’ remit and
  geography than larger generic organisations such as housing associations, which
  often have little or no expertise in the issues around violence. Working in partnership
  with other organisations to bid for funding (whether for grants or contracts) makes it
  easier to argue that you deserve the money because:
           a) You make it easier for the commissioner who prefers to award only one
              grant or contract to deliver all VAWG services in their area
           b) It means a more co-ordinated, joined up and efficient service for women
              and no duplication of services
           c) You can pool your evidence that demonstrates the extraordinary value of
              your organisations and services (e.g. through all of your monitoring and
              evaluation, broader research about the value and benefits of women-only
              services, why the women’s sector is unique and value for money, how the
              different needs of different, marginalised groups of women will be met

    See Imkaan’s report about the impact on BAMER refuges of the changing environment and ‘takeovers’. Mouj,
  A. (2008) ‘A Right to Exist – A paper looking at the eradication of specialist services to BAMER women and
  children fleeing violence’. Imkaan: London
    i.e. taking into account the wider social and economic impacts of a service rather than just the lowest price,
  using service users and organisations’ expertise in service design etc. More information about intelligent
  commissioning can be accessed here:

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
                because of the range of expertise and specialisms that make up the
                partnership etc.)

  It is also good for the sector as it promotes a more unified and collaborative working
  approach, retains the expertise and independence of individual organisations rather
  than closing or being taken over, as well as sharing of good practice. In a time of
  cuts and gender blindness at local level, partnership working may offer the only
  solution to retaining (and hopefully growing) existing women-only, specialist services.

  What forms of partnership working are there?

       -   A Women’s Network brings together a range of women’s organisations in a
           particular area primarily to raise the profile of the women’s sector locally and
           do joint local lobbying and campaigning work for the benefit of the sector and
           women-only services e.g. NE Women’s Network, WHEC.

  The PCC will in all likelihood have limited knowledge of intelligent commissioning
  practices, nor the benefits of women-only and specialist services. A Network that can
  deliver these key messages and lobby within the new local structures will be better
  placed to win funding to deliver their services, and ensure that the needs of
  vulnerable women are met by local services. In addition, a women’s network could
  feed into the local Safer Future Communities network.

       -   A number of women’s organisations can also come together under a more
           formal, contractual arrangement where they can then bid as a partnership to
           deliver services e.g. WSSN case study

  The PCC will be in charge of the budget to tackle crime and promote community
  safety. They will be able to award contracts to organisations delivering services that
  meet these aims. The VAWG sector is well placed to deliver on reductions in the
  number of crimes being perpetrated (e.g. through their perpetrator programmes or by
  providing refuge space that limits the exposure of women to further incidents of
  domestic and/or sexual violence).

  Having a partnership of organisations that can deliver all VAWG services in an entire
  police area will stand a greater chance of being awarded this contract rather than
  individual organisations. Not only because of the capacity of the partnership to
  deliver more services across a wider area, but also because they will be better able
  to demonstrate how they can meet the needs of different groups of vulnerable
  women through one contract e.g. BME women, refugee women, women who have
  experienced sexual violence, those with drug and alcohol dependencies etc.

  Benefits of partnership working

  Benefits for smaller and/or                 Benefits for larger and/or                  Benefit for the
  specialist women’s                          more generic women’s                        women’s sector,

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
  organisations                               organisations                               women-only
                                                                                          services and women
  More likely to win contracts                Don’t have to ‘buy in’                      Women-only services
  to deliver services for victims             specialist expertise of                     are protected and not
  of violence as part of a                    service deliverers                          replaced by generic
  partnership                                                                             and/or mixed
  Shared load of a limited                    Opportunity to support                      Women’s sector has a
  capacity                                    smaller, specialist                         stronger voice at local
                                              organisations, their input and              level in terms of
                                              expertise is useful in service              decision-making for
                                              planning and delivery                       the benefit of women
                                                                                          in the area
  Opportunity to retain                       Greater strength of                         A sector that can
  specialist                                  collaboration that puts you in              share resources,
  service/staff/expertise                     a stronger position against                 knowledge and build
                                              generic organisations when                  capacity will be more
                                              bidding for contracts                       efficient
  Retain independence of your                 Retain independence of your                 More diverse sector
  organisation and expertise of               organisation and expertise of               better able to meet
  your staff                                  your staff                                  women’s needs

  Overcoming barriers to partnership working

       1. Logistics and practical knowledge of building partnerships and

           The first step is to see if there are any women’s sector networks, forums or
           partnerships in your area. If there are, it is worth getting in touch if you want to
           be involved and build on the work that is already taking place. To see a list of
           Safer Future Communities networks and find your local network contact, go

           If you are thinking of setting up a formal partnership to bid for service
           contracts, it may be worth approaching existing women’s sector partnerships
           for advice. At any rate, local mapping is a must, if only to avoid duplication
           and possible tensions and conflicts further down the line. See WRC’s
           membership map for help with your local mapping exercise.

           This document is crucial reading if you are thinking about setting up a
           network, partnership or forum:

           For an example of an existing partnership’s contract please click here:

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
           For more support around setting up a network, partnership or forum please
           contact the policy or development team here at WRC: or

       2. Overcoming existing divisions within the sector locally

           Organisations are set up at various times and in various contexts. The
           increasingly marketised environment, coupled with the lack of grant funding
           available to voluntary organisations inevitably creates a more competitive
           environment, which can impact on how organisations relate to each other.
           While there may be perfectly legitimate limitations as to when and how
           organisations can work together, WRC would like to suggest that divisions
           based on a reaction to increased competition should be reconsidered.

           WRC’s function as an umbrella body for all women’s organisations means our
           focus is on promoting a diverse and thriving sector. If a ‘protectionist’ strategy
           by individual organisations is adopted (e.g. working independently, larger
           organisations ‘taking over’ smaller, specialist organisations etc.), in the long
           term we will see a diminished sector, both in terms of the number of
           organisations, specialisms, expertise and collective voice. We would ask
           larger organisations to be mindful of their ‘position’ in relation to other
           organisations (primarily in terms of funding, resources and capacity) and to
           seek a more collaborative strategy that will benefit the whole sector (and
           therefore different groups of women).

           Thrashing out differences and expectations is a must before embarking on
           any kind of collaborative project. Professional, independent and strong
           facilitation can be sought here e.g. for joint visioning exercises. While this is
           imperative for formal partnership arrangements, it is also useful to bear in
           mind for other sorts of collaborative working e.g. local campaigning projects.
           For more information please contact our development team.

       3. Building local knowledge

           There may be existing networks, forums and partnerships in your area, which
           could be built upon rather than starting from scratch. If you are not involved
           already in a local women’s sector network, click on our membership map to
           see if there are any you can contact in your area as an important step towards
           building an increasingly collective voice at local level.

           Many organisations will already be linked into various local networks and
           forums. It is worth having a discussion about how they will operate differently
           as a reaction to the changes in decision-making structures and funding and
           commissioning decisions.

       4. Making a business case

           These pages on WRC’s website have links to a number of documents that
           you may find useful when thinking about how to promote your specialist work
           to commissioners and funders.

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
           Making the case for your work:

           Making the case for women-only services:

           Promoting an intelligent commissioning model:

           Sustainable funding:

           The links here provide evidence of the need of VAWG services, as well as
           existing strategies that can be used as levers to build your case:

           The Safer Future Communities Partnership, funded by the Home Office to
           ensure the voluntary and community sector are aware of and engaging with
           the changes happening with the introduction of Police and Crime
           Commissioners, has commissioned some work you may find useful locally.
           You will be able to view statistics from each police force area pertaining to the
           Home Office priorities, one of which is violence against women and girls. This
           data can be used by you to make the case of prevalence of VAWG and that
           such services are needed. This information will be available shortly, and a
           link will be provided in due course.

           Other useful publications that provide VAWG data broken down into regions

           EVAW, Map of Gaps 2, The postcode lottery of violence against women
           support services in the Britain

           Other useful WRC publications are:

           Why women-only? October, 2007

           Hidden Value: Demonstrating the extraordinary impact of women's voluntary
           and community organisations, December 2011

           Defending women-only services briefing, April 2012:

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176
  Case study: Women’s Strategic Services Network, Brighton

  Follow the link for a summary of this successful partnership of four organisations in

  For more information about developing any of these issues further in your local area,
  please contact

This project is funded by the Home Office and managed by Clinks, registered charity no 1074546, Company limited by guarantee,
                                               registered in England no 3562176

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