26 June 2014

Since 2008, The Henry Smith Charity and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation have spent £3 million on the Northern Ireland Development Fund (NIDF), and supported 14 leaders from across the voluntary and community sector to do what they thought needed to be done to help build a better society. By giving exceptional leaders in the sector the freedom of unrestricted grant funding, we hoped they could generate examples of how things could be done differently.

Six years on, we are sharing our reflections in the hope that they will be of interest to other independent funders, as well as helpful to the leaders we supported and others in Northern Ireland looking for new ways to support a resilient, cohesive, vibrant and inclusive society.

The report, What have we learnt?:

  • Describes why we developed the NIDF and the funding approach we took
  • Explores our learning about the quality of the people we have supported and their achievements
  • Gives examples of the contribution that NIDF grantees have made towards some of these key outcomes:
    • A positive contribution to policy making
    • A vibrant, inclusive and modern society
    • A shared sense of community
    • Challenging stereotypes and enabling new voices
    • A new history for a shared future
  • Reflects on our funding approach and the potential legacy of the programme

The report can be downloaded using the link below.

Northern Ireland Development Programme What have we learnt?  (25 pages) 1MB PDF

The report is launched on the first day of the XChange Summer School in Enniskillen. XChange is a new and dynamic project set up by the NIDF grantees to add to the network of leaders in the third sector who can build a strong and dynamic civil society and a new way of doing things in Northern Ireland. The Xchange Summer School is an event for people who want to bring about social change in Northern Ireland. It is for thinkers and explainers of all ages who want time out to have alternative conversations and change the perspective on areas such as the arts, media, liberties and history.



27 January 2011 

Islands in the Stream: an evaluation of four London independent domestic violence advocacy schemes

Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy support to high-risk victims can enhance safety and reduce repeat incidents according to a new evaluation report by Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University, commissioned by the Trust for London and the Henry Smith Charity.

Between 2007 and 2010 the two Trusts invested £900,000 (increased to £1.6 million with match funding from statutory sources)* in four projects, to enable them to increase capacity and provide specialist support in their work with high-risk victims of domestic violence in London.   Each project operated in a different borough and setting, including a police station, a community centre, and A&E department of a large hospital, and specialist service targeting Black and minority ethnic communities.

The evaluation, based on the first two years of the programme, and undertaken by Dr Maddy Coy and Dr Liz Kelly of the highly respected Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, showed that:

  • The vast majority of service users were female, and almost all perpetrators male;
  • All the schemes demonstrated success in enhancing safety and levels of repeat referrals and further incidents of violence recorded by IDVAs were very low;
  • High proportion of service users were from Black and minority ethnic communities, with significant numbers of women with no recourse to public funds;
  • Some statutory agencies had a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic violence, especially how jealous and controlling behaviour impacts on women's ability to act;
  • Support for high-risk victims is only one part of an effective co-ordinated response. Local 'wraparound' specialist provision is essential for IDVAs to refer on to, and to prevent low to medium risk victims becoming high-risk;
  • Serious concerns were raised about how some of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) were operating whilst recognising the potentially important role they play in making agencies accountable;
  • The independence of the IDVA is critical if they are to be effective advocates for institutional change.

Key recommendations of the report:

  • Provision for victim-survivors of domestic violence needs to be comprehensive, available for those at low, medium and high risk, including those in refuges;
  • Coercive control (jealous and controlling behaviour) should be regarded as a critical risk factor and should be systematically recorded;
  • IDVAs should be based in a range of settings in order to increase access to specialist support;
  • Operational issues about MARACs need to be addressed. 

* Funding for the projects is ongoing throughout 2011 bringing overall investment by the two Trusts to £1.3m and total investment by all partners to £2 million.

The full report and executive summary can be downloaded by clicking on the links below. 

Islands in the Stream: full report (149 pages) 1.6MB PDF 

Islands in the Stream: executive summary (16 pages)  894 KB PDF


November 2009 

Safety in Numbers: a multi-site evaluation of Independent Domestic Violence Advisor Services has been published.  The study is the first large scale, multi-site evaluation of IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advisor) services across England and Wales. 

Over two years, the study followed 2,500 women across seven sites in England and Wales who were suffering from severe, high risk physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as stalking and harassment.  It found that this abuse stopped completely in two-thirds of cases where there was intensive support from an IDVA service, and for those where abuse continued, levels were considerably reduced.  IDVAs act as the main interface between victims and the main agencies involved in keeping them safe (eg police, courts, children's services, health services).

Recommendations from the report include increasing the number of IDVAs nationally.  Currently there are less than half the 1,200 to 1,500 needed to achieve national coverage.

The cost of providing an IDVA for a high risk victim of domestic abuse per successful outcome (ie where all forms of abuse cease) is less than £1,000.

The study was commissioned by The Hestia Fund with support from The Henry Smith Charity and The Sigrid Rausing Trust.  Its authors are Dr Emma Howarth and Louise Stimpson MRes with input from Diana Barran BA and an expert panel that included Dr Amanda Robinson.

The report, summary and key findings are available to download in PDF format by clicking on the links below:

Safety in Numbers: the full report  (162 pages)  1.1MB PDF

Safety in Numbers: executive summary and recommendations  (16 pages)  116KB PDF

Safety in Numbers: a summary of the four key findings  (2 pages)  50KB PDF



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