The WGI Synthesis Report #2: ‘Learning from a turbulent time’ highlights some of the challenges, achievements, opportunities and concerns shared by projects funded through The National Lottery Fund’s Women and Girls Initiative during 2020.
The Learning and Impact Services Partners (Tavistock Institute, DMSS Research and CWASU) have brought this report together, based on blogs and briefings published, and what projects have told us about how they have responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic. It summarises key learning points and offers some reflections and considerations for the future, to help projects emerge as strongly as possible from the pandemic experience.
‘Learning from a turbulent time’ is relevant for organisations working with women and girls, whether WGI funded or not, as well as for commissioners, funders and anyone else interested in supporting or finding out more about specialist work with women and girls.
The report identifies how WGI projects mobilised quickly and effectively in partnership with statutory, private and other third sector groups to meet immediate pandemic-related needs. The holistic, trauma-informed approaches already embedded within projects prior to the pandemic enabled them to respond quickly in the face of a national crisis.
As the pandemic hit, projects rapidly adapted existing services and offered additional support to women and girls in order to fill gaps in provision when other services seemed to retreat or were unable to respond dynamically.
Projects speedily increased their capacity and skills for working remotely and online, and some women and girls preferred these methods of support. However, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women and girls, particularly those seeking access to justice, Black and minoritised women, and women affected by mental health issues.
As we look ahead, there continues to be much uncertainty about how things will develop and what women and girls will need as we learn to live with Covid-19. There is hope that some of the opportunities generated by the pandemic will continue, such as the new partnerships that have developed to address emergency needs. And there is concern that there will be long-term emotional, economic and social impacts arising from the experience that will need continuing support. Aligned to this is the concern about projects’ sustainability to be able to support future needs, as well as concerns around staff well-being coming out of the pandemic.
The report concludes by suggesting that the increased attention around domestic violence and violence towards women and girls over the past year might help create the climate for projects to be adequately funded to undertake their specialist work as part of the recovery from the pandemic. However, there is the danger that in a rush to ‘get back to normal’ women and girls organisations could be forgotten.
We hope this report supports projects in getting their messages across about the vital role played by women and girls organisations and helps mitigate against historical barriers to funding and support for women and girls.
Information in the WGI Synthesis Report #2 is drawn from the Women and Girls Initiative, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund (The Fund). The Initiative supported 62 projects with funds raised from the National Lottery.
The WGI Learning and Impact Services was delivered on behalf of The Fund by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR), DMSS Research (DMSS) and the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) – the partners. The partners delivered a programme of support to projects with the aim of capturing and sharing learning and creating a stronger community of services that has greater influence on decision-making structures across the country.