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Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Multiple Disadvantage

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AVA and Agenda have launched a new national commission focusing on domestic and sexual abuse against the most marginalised women and girls.

Launched in October 2017, the commission is considering the situation of women and girls who have experienced violence and go on to face a range of other issues including addiction and poor mental health. It will take evidence from women with experience of these issues, and will consider what services are available to women and the changes to policy and practice needed to support them.

At the end of the year-long commission, a report will be published with the findings and a series of recommendations including for the government and local authorities.

Chaired by Baroness Hilary Armstrong, it brings together leading experts from a range of sectors including:

  • Dame Gill Morgan, former Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Assembly Government
  • Vivienne Adams, Chief Executive of Adfam
  • Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Director of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research at Heriot Watt University
  • Marai Larasi, Executive Director of Imkaan
  • Jaswant Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the South East of England
  • Dominic Williamson, Executive Director of Strategy and Policy at St Mungo’s.

The commission has been kindly funded by a grant from the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales.

APPG for Complex needs

On 12th April, Aviah Day from AVA and Katharine Sacks-Jones from Agenda presented an update on the commission to the APPG (all-party parliamentary group) for Complex Needs which was a great opportunity to create links with others working on multiple disadvantage.

Commission work so far..

May 2018

  • Discussed a thematic analysis of the 70+ submissions that came out of the national call for evidence.
  • They took evidence from peer researchers. They were recruited specifically to work with the Commission as experts by experience. They have interviewed survivors facing multiple disadvantage and have produced a stellar report on their findings and recommendations.
  • Took evidence session on intersectionality and were joined by Sisters of Frida and Stay Safe East who both spoke on disability; Galop who spoke on the LGBTQI community’s experience of domestic violence; and Women and Girls Network who spoke about the experience of BME survivors.

June 2018

July 2018

  • The Commission visited Manchester and heard evidence covering the North of England on the theme of partnership. Evidence was heard from Saheli Asian Women’s Project; Amandudu Women’s Refuge; The Angelou Centre and Apna Haq.
  • Following this session the Commission were joined by Changing Lives and WomenMATTA.
  • There were also representatives from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority speaking on devolution and their efforts to form a coalition of Local Authorities across the Greater Manchester area. Lastly, the Commission heard evidence from IRIS Manchester.
  • Lastly, late in July the Commissioners heard evidence from Kate Davies OBE, Director of Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning. This was followed by Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director for NHS England.

Thank you so much to all those who gave their time, energy and expertise in support of the Commissions work. All the evidence heard will now be collated and used to inform recommendations. This will be presented in a report, due to be published in Autumn this year.

Community of Practice

This week the Commission’s community of practice on women’s multiple disadvantage went live. Through the community, thirty-five professionals with a wealth of experience and expertise on a range of issues including violence against women and girls, substance use, mental distress, involvement in prostitution will come together to share best practice about supporting women affected by abuse and multiple disadvantage and feed into the Commission’s final report.

Peer Researchers

As part of the work of the National Commission, we have trained 13 women with lived experience of multiple disadvantage to be peer researchers. These inspiring women are now conducting interviews with other women in their communities to ensure that the voices of women with experience shape the commission recommendations.

For more information on Peer Researchers, or any other aspect of the project, please contact commission@avaproject.org.uk