IARS have written to London Councils in response to their consultation into the draft specifications for services to be delivered under the Grants Programme 2013/ 15

 

Dear Mr. Brangwyn,

RE: IARS response to consultation on London Councils draft specifications for services to be delivered under the Grants Programme 2013/15

Thank you for the opportunity to feed into the London Councils’ consultation  for services to be delivered under the Grants Programme 2013 / 15. We write to you drawing on evidence from London’s communities and particularly the young people we work with and the organisations serving them.

Unfortunately, due to capacity, we are unable to produce a detailed response to the consultation. This letter focuses on specifications for services 2.A - Violence against Women and Girls - prevention, 2.B4 - Support services to VAWG voluntary sector organisations and 4 - Providing support to London’s voluntary and community organisations. I hope that this letter gives enough information which we can follow up on, should you wish to. As a major player in the policy and voice sector in London, IARS wishes to highlight a few key factors which we feel need to be considered in the prioritisation and the distribution of London Councils funding. IARS also runs the 99% Campaign, a youth-led initiative that aims to dispel negative stereotypes of young people, and promote their involvement in decision-making processes and civic life. Furthermore, the views of young people involved in the Campaign have also been drawn upon in this letter. Having been active members of the VSF Steering Group and responded to all recent London Councils consultations, we hope to continue to demonstrate the funding needs of the capital based on evidence generated from our community led research and work with young people and local organisations.

Services 2.A and 2.B4

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of funding projects that address issues around violence against women and girls in London. Our own research has identified the importance of support for women and girls affected by violence being provided at the earliest point possible.  Our recent peer-led qualitative study into the mental health needs of young women in the criminal justice system revealed the profound and long term psychological impact that violence has on women and girls, many of whom risk ending up in the criminal justice system (IARS, 2012). The report draws attention to the importance of early intervention both in terms of prevention of violence and in identifying the potential impacts such experiences have on women’s and girl’s state of mental health. Recommendations around early intervention are highlighted in the report which is due to be released in September 2012. We would welcome the opportunity to share the learning from this report with you and its implications for services delivered under priority service are 2.A. The report will shortly be available from IARS’ website - http://iars.org.uk/content/iars-charity-bookstore

Voice and representation activities for the VAWG sector, such as those which you propose to fund under priority area 2.B4, are essential for ensuring the most effective policy and service delivery in this area.  This is an approach to policy development which we will be promoting at IARS’ conference, Community-led Solutions to Crime, which will be held on 26th September. We wish to extend our invitation to the event to you and your colleagues. The event will offer a valuable learning and information sharing opportunity with key players from across the Capital who promote user-led policy development and policy and voice work - http://www.iars.org.uk/content/iars-events.

We agree with London Councils prioritisation of funding for support services to VAWG voluntary sector organisations. Our own experience has demonstrated the value of representation services to smaller front line groups working with vulnerable people, including those organisations from the VAWG sector. It is IARS’ position that through the provision of support particularly in the form of policy and voice work, evaluation of project impacts and partnership building the VAWG sector can be strengthened and the greatest outcomes be achieved for women and girls who have experienced violence. We hope to see this service area receive a fair share of the overall grants budget.

Service 4

We are pleased to see continuation of policy and voice services at a pan-London level. There are issues and projects that cannot be looked at only at a borough level. Organisations such as IARS have been championing youth-led policy and user-led voice work for the last ten years.  For example, IARS’ Policy Response Group, which was originally funded by London Councils, is an example of partnership work at London‐wide, strategic level. Please follow this link for details of our members – http://iars.org.uk/content/youth-policy-response-group.The Policy Response Group has enabled smaller voluntary sector organisations with limited capacity to have their voices heard on important policy issues. Further, it has enabled policy makers to understand the impact of their policies from individuals delivering front line services to their target group. We would look forward to extending the network and the impact of the Policy Response Group’s policy and voice work with further funding from London Councils.

We further support London Council’s prioritisation of funding to services that support London’s voluntary and community organisations, under priority area 4 based on evidence gathered from a recent Call for Evidence we undertook with IARS members and members of the National Council of Voluntary Youth Services. London’s youth sector spoke out about the importance of well delivered organisational support, particularly within the context of capacity building and policy and voice support. Respondents commented on the importance of the organisations that provide them with support having “a sense of the nature of beneficiaries… and complexity of the landscape of service delivery” and others mentioned the importance of organisations having “experience with the youth sector”[1]. Well established, local infrastructure and policy and voice organisations represent a valuable source of existing and reliable support for frontline organisation. It is crucial that specialised infrastructure and policy and voice organisations do not lose out on funding opportunities to the larger and more generalist support providers.

We hope that this consultation will lead to refreshed funding arrangements and engage new ways and bodies to deliver services. We would welcome the opportunity to work within any future London Councils funded partnership.

I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of this letter. Any feedback you can provide will be much appreciated by our members. I look forward to hearing your response.

Kind regards,

  

Dr. Theo Gavrielides,

Director, IARS   



[1]IARS and Catalyst (2012) “Big Lottery Fund: Consultation on building impact and legacy”