The UK partner has recently completed interviews with stakeholders that will contribute towards the evaluation of a partnership seeking to offer housing and wrap-around social support to women with multiple needs. This evaluation, a key deliverable of the Daphne: From Street to Home project investigates how the partnership, described as an informal alliance by the two organisations, works in practice, the impact on clients and the potential for sustainability. Although the full report is still in the process of being written, we would like to share some of the findings with you.
Data for the evaluation was collected via a series of interviews with key stakeholders. Interviews were conducted in April and May 2013 with six key personnel based at Anawim and five from Midland Heart. Participants represented a range of roles from management to staff engaged with delivering services to clients. In addition, nine interviews were carried out with women who had been housed as part of the initiative. Beneficiaries were pro- actively involved in the evaluation to evidence the impact of the project and to obtain feedback to help inform potential future developments. The approach captures women’s perspectives and experiences of their involvement and engagement with the project.
There was clear indication from all stakeholder groups that provision of stable and safe accommodation was a key requirement for women presenting with multiple needs. Participants at Anawim also noted the high prevalence of domestic violence and abuse on service recipients and its potential impact – a finding reinforced during the interviews with service users. One of the key principles of the alliance is recognition that on-going support is required by beneficiaries; this too was recognised by the women who were housed following engagement with the initiative.
It was also clear from interviews with beneficiaries that many experienced loneliness and isolation. Although not all of the women spoke directly about this, descriptions of their current lives indicated a lack of a circle of friends or a difficulty in trusting people perhaps related to their experiences of domestic violence, prison or unsuitable accommodation.
One of the key aspects of the Anawim/Midland Heart alliance is the requirement for the woman to commit to a stable lifestyle and engage in the process of tackling their problems. Interviewees at Anawim were conscious of the fact that in some cases, Midland Heart were ‘taking a chance’ with a prospective tenant. It was also evident that women who were continuing to lead chaotic lifestyles were unlikely to be selected as suitable tenants; this was due to a number of reasons including a desire to ensure that the partnership is sustained, and recognition that a woman who is not ready for independent living is unlikely to maintain a tenancy. This, of course, raises questions relating to provision of services to this particular group.
Although participants from both Anawim and Midland Heart generally agreed that the alliance worked well, some areas of concern were noted. These generally related to the process element of the partnership including the flow of communication between the two agencies. There was recognition by both providers that sustainability of the initiative could be threatened by wider governmental policy, with the necessity to secure funding identified as a key area of concern.
We hope that this gives you an idea of the benefits of the partnership and potential difficulties in sustaining this type of initiative. We would very much like to hear your thoughts and/or examples of other organisations that are engaging in this kind of partnership work.
A full evaluation report of the Anawim/Midland Heart partnership will be available on the project website in due course.