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Stockport Borough Council wanted to undertake detailed work to tackle the heart of domestic abuse issues. They were conscious that their victim support services, by not addressing the root causes of the abuse, would only ever be scratching the surface of the problem.
Stockport applied to be part of Design Council’s Design in the Public Sector programme to see if a design-led approach could help them find a better solution to the issue.
Similar to feedback from other programme participants after the initial sessions, the Stockport team reported the introduction to design methods made them quickly realise they had “started in the middle of a project, rather than at the beginning.”
The team realised they needed to go back and listen to the users, in this case particularly the perpetrators, so they could understand what it was like to engage with the services.
The team conducted detailed background research, reviewing existing national and international literature on the subject. They also conducted innovative ‘Service User Involvement Exercises’ across Greater Manchester with both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. This enabled them to map the user experience and consider how best to deliver services to support change.
Helen Boyle, Project Team Member at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, explained: “We started a collaboration across Greater Manchester trying to roll out new and innovative models of work with perpetrators.”
Stockport has successfully collaborated with other organisations in Greater Manchester, receiving £30k of additional funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to test a new Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme.
In August 2015, Stockport completely recommissioned their domestic abuse support services to match the different model devised by the team and their partners, including a service aimed at the perpetrators of domestic abuse.
A baseline study will be conducted alongside these new services that will seek to evidence the impact of services for perpetrators, expected by August 2016.
Boyle continued: “We’ve completely recommissioned our model for domestic abuse and come up with a co-commissioned, co-production model which is around an alliance of partner agencies and providers coming together to deliver a model that puts equal weight towards victims and perpetrators.”
The team has used the experience of the programme to change the way they work, and continues to collaborate across the greater Manchester area. They foresee other project areas that they may work on together with different organisations.
“I suppose that the programme galvanised [us], if you like. It all came at absolutely the right time,” Boyle said.
The project is ongoing.