Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, exists to ensure that women and girls at risk of abuse, poverty, poor mental health, addiction and homelessness get the support and protection they need.
We campaign for systems and services to be transformed; to raise awareness across sectors; and to promote public and political understanding of the lives of women and girls facing multiple disadvantage.
Women facing multiple disadvantage are amongst the most vulnerable and excluded in society, facing complex and overlapping problems like abuse and violence, poor physical and mental health, homelessness, offending and involvement in prostitution. Research for Agenda found one million women in poverty have faced the most extensive violence and abuse. This group has high rates of mental health disorders (55%); alcohol addiction (28%); and experiences of homelessness (21%).
The way current services are configured do not work for this group of women and too many fall through gaps in support. Specialist services are few and far between and increasingly struggle for funding. Gender is rarely thought about in service design, commissioning and delivery. 75% of clients in homeless and drug services are men, meaning they can be intimidating and unsafe places for women. Only around 10-30% of women who have experienced sexual and physical abuse are identified as survivors by mental health services. At the same time, some domestic and sexual abuse services are limited in their ability to support women with complex needs. For example, referrals into refuges for women with substance use support needs are less likely to be successful than referrals for other women.
Agencies and services women and girls at risk come into contact with too often lack a gendered understanding; work in siloes and provide inadequate support meaning women and girls are unable to get the help they need to turn their lives around.
When women are unable to access support or accommodation not only do their needs go unmet but they can be trapped in abusive relationships or in other insecure and precarious situations. Without the right support, women spiral from crisis to crisis, with huge resulting costs to them, their families and society as a whole.
Agenda believes that, in order to make systems and services work better for women and girls at risk, both national policy change and local place based systems change are critical and that these two approaches are mutually supporting. This is particularly important in a context of devolution where strategic and financial decisions are increasingly made at local levels.
Purpose of this work
There is a growing body of evidence around place-based systems change. However, there is limited work which takes a gendered approach.
Agenda, supported by the Lankelly Chase Foundation, wants to address this by commissioning a piece of work to build on the existing evidence base and consider how systems and services in a locality can be redesigned to take into account the particular experiences of women and girls.
We want to understand:
- What might such a system look like? (Is it possible to make assumptions or would it need to be designed entirely locally?)
- What might the benefits be of such an approach (for women and girls facing disadvantage but also more widely)?
- What processes might be needed in a place to work towards systems change? And what principles might underpin these processes?
- What might the barriers be?
- How might these be overcome?
We are looking for proposals to produce a report drawing on evidence of what’s already happening in this area and on the views of key stakeholders including women themselves, practitioners and commissioners.
The report will add to the existing knowledge base setting out the case for change; what is already happening in this area; key principles and considerations for a gendered approach and the outline of a model or framework for gender informed systems change (including gender-sensitive commissioning and delivery across public services) that can be adapted to meet local need.
It is envisaged that this work will be the first stage of a larger project which might go onto look at how gender informed place based systems change could be practically implemented.
- Add to the existing knowledge base around place and systems change
- Make the case for an approach to service delivery and commissioning that properly takes into account the particular experiences of women and girls and combats gender neutrality
- Set out some of the barriers to change and how these might be overcome and a positive vision of how things could be different
- Set out key principles and considerations for a gendered approach
- Develop options for/ outline of a replicable model which can be adapted to bring about change directly in areas
- Help shape Agenda’s policy and influencing work
The points below comprise Agenda’s view of what will be required and how the aims will be met. However, we welcome proposals that critique this approach and suggest alternative ways to meet the aims set out above. We expect the successful bidder to set out their own interpretation and understanding of the brief.
We anticipate the approach will require:
A literature review looking at:
- Different approaches to place-based change across a range of sectors and what work is already happening in this area (including where gendered approaches are being taken in the UK and internationally e.g. there are examples of women centred approaches from the US which would be worth considering).
- What we can learn from systems and services that have been redesigned to take into account the particular experiences of women and girls.
- What we can learn from non –gender specific approaches and models to systems change.
- Defining the problem: how services and systems and commissioning fails to work for women and girls (this could include e.g. issues around commissioning; service thresholds) and the consequences: impact on women; families and communities, the financial costs.
- The social and business case for a gendered approach to systems change including the social, financial and wider benefits to local areas (such as reputational)
Stakeholder interviews/focus groups with different constituents of stakeholders (e.g. commissioners, local political leaders, women themselves, women’s sector) to:
- Include interviews with those working on different approaches to systems change (systems practitioners)
- Establish how the current system, including commissioning, works for women – this might involve using tools like system mapping
- Begin to identify strategic and practical barriers to change at an individual, organizational and systemic level and to understand what is needed to make the case for change
- Understand what models and approaches people are receptive to
- Engage women with experience to understand and draw on the values and outcomes that are important to them in order to lead independent and fulfilling lives
- Use this process to identify potential champions and members for a reference group for possible follow on work
A final report with a stand-alone executive summary:
- critiquing work already happening in this area
- clearly articulating case for change in a way that resonates with target audiences including decision makers such as commissioners and local politicians
- setting out principles/ways of working and potential options for model development and the outline of a model
Proposed next steps for the project
- including potential areas to work with and possible champions/reference group members
- further resources needed
If you would like to be considered for this work, please send a brief outline describing your proposed approach. Please include an overview of your relevant skills and experience, and an estimated budget.
The total budget should not exceed £20,000 including VAT and expenses. We expect this work to be completed within a 6-9 month timeframe.
Proposals should be no more than 1500 words including appendices.
We will finalise the specification with the successful bidder and envisage that this may be an iterative process.
Timing and submission details
The deadline for proposals is 12 noon on 11 August 2017.
Proposals are to be sent to Katharine Sacks-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org