A partnership approach: supporting and empowering vulnerable women within one UK city





Evaluation, domestic abuse, women, peer support, partnership, model of support


This paper draws upon a three-year longitudinal qualitative evaluation of a voluntary sector strategic partnership and delivery project involving eleven women-centred organisations. The consortium, funded by the Big Lottery (charity), worked together to support the most vulnerable women and girls across a city in the north of England 2017-2021. The partnership of eleven female led organisations delivered front-line services which aimed to enable women and girls to lead safer and healthier lives.  Partners combined their expertise to support women with multiple needs including: mental health, domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation, experience of the criminal justice system, sex work, and substance misuse. The project aimed to achieve 3 outcomes: Outcome 1: Improved and extended access for vulnerable women and girls in Leeds to the services and support they want when they choose; Outcome 2: A holistic response to ensure that the needs of women and girls with multiple and complex issues are better supported; Outcome 3: Women and girls will be empowered to support their peers and influence service delivery, development and design across the city. Our evaluation placed the project staff, partners, stakeholders and service users at the centre of qualitative data collection, using a co-produced Theory of Change approach to data collection.    Our sample of 34 service users, 35 professionals (19 interviewed twice) and monitoring data shows that the project successfully met its objectives and developed a model of practice that could be used in other contexts to support and empower vulnerable women.