Equity, equality, diversity and inclusion
End of Year stocktake 2023
In 2022 SafeLives commissioned an external review to look how we have been doing at becoming anti-racist.
We did this because we wanted to learn from our work historically and from our initial responses after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, when we realised from feedback and our internal discussions that we needed to do better. Our aim is to transform deeply and so we want to go at the right pace, listening to our people. We recognised the limitations of our own histories, so we invited Kaveed Ali, Director of EDI at UK Community Foundations to talk with freedom and independence to our Board, team members, Pioneers and associates over a six month period, with the remit to seek out:
“obstacles and challenges that SafeLives has not yet identified, mitigated, or overcome to move toward becoming an anti-racist organisation. Its intended value resides in establishing a foundation to engage and support the organisation with the questions it must answer to authentically and impactfully embrace anti-racism.”
As we would have hoped, the report is bold, and it is clear we need to do more.
Kaveed’s key findings were that:
- The organisation is divided in its ambition and sense of purpose around anti-racism.
- SafeLives lacks a shared understanding of what anti-racism means strategically and operationally.
- The organisation lacks some of the core capabilities to deliver this work.
- There are high levels of fear around anti-racism and what it might mean.
- Organisational culture is the key obstacle to delivering change.
His recommendations were to:
- Pause and reformulate staff training on anti-racism.
- Conduct comprehensive anti-racism scoping.
- Develop the organisation’s narrative and sense of purpose regarding anti-racism.
- Improve internal communication.
- Strengthen people and culture.
We have accepted all the findings and the recommendations and shared these with our teams. In response, our Board and senior leadership team have embraced the need to do this properly and thoroughly, starting with the recruitment of a new Director reporting to the CEO.
We’re pleased to welcome our new Director of People and Culture, Dawn Codrington. Dawn joins SafeLives in August 2023 to lead our people and culture work. She has spent her professional life working nationally and internationally in the field of people development and change and transformation; working with individuals, teams and organisations to create positive people-centred environments. She has worked with health and social care, education and international charities, including a global volunteer led organisation, where she developed women leaders on the Stop the Violence Campaign. Most recently, she has been at Turning Point, the leading health and social care enterprise, and Transform Trade, a trade justice organisation in the international development sector.
Dawn says: “I am so pleased to be working in the area of people and culture, at a time when so many organisations are wanting to ‘do better.’ Transforming organisations to become places of genuine inclusion, belonging and well-ness deeply matters to me - as an individual, a member of staff and as a senior leader. This is what has brought me has brought me to the role of Director of People and Culture at SafeLives.”
Dawn brings a powerful background and expertise and will start her role by working with us on a thorough listening exercise, to venture into difficult but necessary conversations about what we mean by respect and how we can create a place where everyone feels included and empowered through their experiences with SafeLives.
She’ll also be involved in continuing and extending our equity, equality, diversity and inclusion work, as we make sure our core activities – domestic abuse practice, research intelligence, authentic voice, training and workforce development, and quality standards – are reframed in partnership with more diverse voices, and in ways that recognise that exclusion, including racism, is systemic in responses to abuse, and needs to be dismantled.
We have also taken action around our staff training and our internal communications and will be working closely with Dawn and our teams to develop this further in the light of her initial work.
We don’t want to prejudge what our journey towards anti-racism will involve, but a fair guess would be it will consider how we share power in decision-making, growing our cultural knowledge and competence, and taking positive action to lift up the voices and presence of survivors who have been minoritised, and the support services established by and for them.
End of year stocktake
- Our primary focus continues to be on anti-racism, though work to improve our representation and activities on other protected characteristics continues alongside
- We are making progress, but this is uneven and – two years after we published our original plan – we would have wanted to be further on. Stakeholder input and interviews with current staff and during exit interviews all show recognition of greater commitment and action by the organisation, but also some persistent and significant problems. Some aspects of what we do have changed more quickly and visibly than others; we know we need to make this more consistent. We need to stop making the same mistakes; we have raised expectations but aren’t always meeting them and this causes harm to the people involved.
- Recognising the limits of our own skill and expertise to do things differently, SafeLives and the Drive Partnership team have asked Kaveed Ali, Director of EDI at UK Community Foundations to undertake an independent, external review of our work on anti-racism over the last two years. Kaveed will be alongside us until Oct/Nov 2022 to understand our current culture, our aspirations, and the gap between the two.
- The current review process is likely to result in a new form of plan for the organisation, so EEDI stocktakes/reports we publish in future might diverge from the ones we’ve published over the last two years.
- We know that at this stage some transactional changes have been made, but true transformation requires something different from us. Our commitment to transparency and openness remains, so we will continue to provide information and invite people to hold us to account. We will continue to publish annual diversity data for our staff, Trustees, Pioneers, AV panel members and associates, in February each year.
- We need to understand all the components which help someone feel a sense of belonging at SafeLives – or the gaps we’re leaving which we need to fix
- We have refreshed and updated our process of recruitment for associate trainers, significantly changing how we recruit and improving the breadth of trainers who apply to work with us. We are now working on better support for our larger and more representative associate workforce, taking into account newer members’ early experiences of being in the training room, their fellow trainers, and our own staff team
- Diversity data for staff, Trustees, associates and Pioneers was refreshed in early 2022 and published in February. We remain committed to publishing and tracking this data year on year and will also look at retention rates, any exit interview feedback, and equity within our internal systems such as pay and progression arrangements, access to suitable clinical supervision and reflective space support.
- We continue to invest in building staff knowledge and confidence that will help us identify, de-escalate and resolve problems at the earliest stage possible. Many staff have now completed their Level 1 Restorative Practice training, and a smaller proportion have completed Level 2. We want all staff to have baseline restorative practice skills, so we hold sensitive conversations earlier and better, and support colleagues who want to really develop this practice and act as champions for it within the organisation.
- We know that in some instances, colleagues and managers are not confident enough about the action they should take or the support they can call on, if they or someone else has identified racism or other discrimination. It’s a priority for us to address this – we will never deliver on our commitments until team members feel fully confident that concerns they raise will be properly addressed.
- From September, we will be piloting a Code to support staff processes for raising concerns and acting on them. This sits alongside existing processes for whistleblowing, formal complaints, and other policy. A linked code will also in place for other SafeLives community members – Pioneers, AV Panel Scotland, Trustees, associates.
Communications & audiences
- We are continuing to reflect the diversity of the UK in our external communications and to use our platform to extend reach for smaller organisations. We invited La Grace de Francoise to do an Instagram takeover and worked with and shared content for International Women's Day March 2022 with Shakti Women’s Aid, Sistah Space, Sikh Women's Aid, Al Hasaniya, BAWSO and the HOPE Network. A cross organisational working group is planning for Black History Month 2022.
- With our Your Best Friend project partners, we produced a fully accessible podcast series (BSL translators, vodcast versions, transcripts, subtitles on promotional social media posts etc). This included work with the National Deaf Children's Society to amplify the voices and experiences of young black Deaf women.
- We have amplified Karma Nirvana and partner organisations’ campaign around Girls not Brides and Sistah Space’s call for Valerie's Law (DA practitioners all having cultural competence training to work with Black African and Caribbean heritage family members). Please see below for our own role in the campaign to adopt this training.
- Our website redevelopment has taken longer than we hoped, but we will continue to increase the diversity of our content as we finalise its launch and update our style guide to ensure an inclusive tone of voice. We are committed to improving the site's level of accessibility, to enhance the user experience for every visitor.
Collaborations, partnerships and projects
- A report on our allyship to smaller, more specialist frontline organisations was completed by Meena Kumari and Brandy Hubbard in November 2021. This report identified a willingness on the part of grassroots organisations working from a ‘by and for’ perspective to engage with SafeLives, and some really clear indicators about what form they would like that engagement to take.
- As standard, we are ensuring appropriate payment for services’ expertise and developing our engagement methods to better take account of services needs.
- Teams have also acted on the content of this report in different ways. Our research team is supporting Sikh Women’s Aid with their annual survey reaching Sikh and Panjabi women across the UK. And our team in Scotland have initiated a piece of joint training development with specialist organisation Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre. This is expected to be an ongoing piece of work, with the first open course on ‘Safety Planning for South Asian Women’ being launched in February 2023. An animation and comms around the training will be highlighted as part of Amina and SafeLives’ joint 16 days’ activities in November 2022.
- Our Public Affairs team has advocated consistently, in collaboration with the DA Commissioner’s office and sector colleagues, for bespoke and sufficient funding for frontline ‘by and for’ organisations, and for support for migrant victims with no recourse to public funds. They also worked with the Wish Centre and Al-Hasaniya on the UK Government’s Victims Bill consultation and with Southall Black Sisters on the Coercive and Controlling Behaviour consultation. We will keep increasing our engagement with specialist services in 2022/23 as part of our public affairs-led Whole Health London and family justice influencing, as well as through the work of other teams.
- In Scotland, we have started work with three specialist services (Shakti Women’s Aid, Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid and Amina to examine responses to cases involving so called ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage and what the barriers are, preventing racially minoritised victims being referred for Marac support across Scotland.
- We have been able to make introductions bilaterally for smaller colleague organisations to funders with whom we’re in touch. And we have been really glad of the expertise of multiple individuals and organisations who work from a ‘by and for’ perspective as part of our work reviewing elements of the risk-led model for domestic abuse, including the DASH risk assessment.
- We were really pleased to host a two day visit from colleagues at Sistah Space in April 2022. SafeLives associate trainers will undertake Valerie’s Law training in November, and SafeLives staff will take this training in December.
- We were lucky to have Sistah Space, Sikh Women’s Aid and YANA project all speaking at our conference in June 2022. We expect all of our teams to be developing links with their colleagues through their practice, so that in all parts of the organisation we’re living up to the recommendations made in the allyship report of November 2021.
- We committed to making changes to applications/accessibility to our flagship training, the Idva course. Data on which learners and organisations have accessed our training July 2021 – June 2022 is currently being analysed. Changes made to our application and accessibility for the course have seen us provide 20 subsidies and eight ‘super subsidies’ for the course in autumn 2022. We had 200 applications for 96 places; subsidies have all gone to small organisations with one or more specialisms in racially minoritised groups or LGBT+ provision
- We commissioned Forward UK to produce a briefing paper for working with survivors of African heritage communities which will be incorporated into the Spring 2022 Idva Foundation Manual, as well as partnership working alongside Sistah Space on course content.
- The Drive partnership team is currently examining whether there is over-representation of certain racially minoritised groups being referred to the Drive service in some parts of the country. While we want everyone who meets the criteria for the Drive service to be able to access it, and Drive is not a criminal justice intervention, the partnership wants to be sure that structural bias and discrimination is not leading to adverse impacts on any individual or group.
- We still haven’t been able to deliver on some service delivery commitments we made in July 2020 – for example the implementation of a simple, standardised EEDI impact assessment for each of our projects. However, less structured assessment is now routinely happening for each new piece of work we consider, through existing documents such as bids and project initiation documents. An EEDI impact assessment has been produced in draft, and it remains our aspiration to test and mainstream this into our practice in 2022/23
- We have made partial progress in terms of more representative panels both for the events we organise internally, those in which we engage externally, and recruitment panels. We need to keep a focus on this. There is still work for us to do to think about other aspects of how our events can be made more welcoming and inclusive; for example location around the UK, the choice of venues, the food served, and the nature of sessions within events (for eg more traditionally classroom and more participative).
Midyear stocktake - SafeLives EEDI Plan 2021/22
Our EEDI Objectives for 2021/22
We measure our progress towards creating the kind of organisational culture we want using quantitative and qualitative indicators. Our key markers are set out below and we will work by the end of 2021/22 to set further goals around these themes:
- Our team: Who are our staff, Pioneers, associates and Trustees, and how do they feel about working at SafeLives?
- Our communications and audiences: What reach and impact are we achieving? Who feels we are speaking in a way that resonates for them? What intended/unintended message are we giving in our choice of content, language and imagery, formats and channels? How are we testing perceptions of us and our work?
- Our collaborations, partners and projects: Who we are engaging with in a meaningful way?
- Our service delivery: What improved impact are we having, together with our partners? What’s the experience people have of the domestic abuse response they receive which we have partnered in or commissioned?
In our full-year stocktake in summer 2022 we will once again ask for external perspectives on progress we have or haven’t made.
Objective 1: Our team
- We have published data from our second annual diversity declaration for staff, Trustees, Pioneers and associates, completed in December 2021
- This monitoring data reflects what we see from our broader HR information – that the organisation is changing, including in our most senior governance, our Trustee Board. However, we have high levels of stability in senior management posts – the senior leadership and operational management teams - so this data shows little change since we reported in February 2021.
- In terms of how colleagues are supported after they’ve joined the organisation, our staff survey held in November/December 2021 shows that we received an average score of 4 out of 5. This is consistent with 2020. With regards to the question ‘I often feel the burden of having to educate people at SafeLives about diversity and inclusion’ there was a further slight fall in the overall number of people agreeing with the statement, which is positive, but a slight rise in the number of people who strongly agreed with it, which indicates that a small number of people feel they are carrying weight for the organisation in this respect, something we have to change.
- We want staff, Pioneers associates and Trustees to have multiple opportunities for learning, development and growth in the organisation in relation to EEDI. In the first half of 2021/22, we completed core EEDI, Race Resilience and Anti-Racism courses
- We have added to our formal HR policies, working with Diverse Matters on a formal EEDI policy which sits alongside existing policies for whistleblowing and complaints, but we know that a policy needs implementation and we are working with staff and pioneers who have experience of discrimination to ensure that this is done in a way that is supportive and respectful.
- American coach Kwame Christian says about anti-racism, as a specific aspect of EEDI, ‘the best things lie on the other side of difficult conversations.’ In the first half of 2021/22 we started to develop our ability to safely and respectfully hold these conversations. We have worked with the Restorative Engagement Forum to start building staff ability to have sensitive conversations in a way that can repair or de-escalate harm. We are rolling out Restorative Practice Level 1 training for all staff.
- The SafeLives Culture Group remains an important forum for exploring how we ‘call in’ issues of concern, making it safe to make mistakes and learn together while recognising and addressing the impact on people when mistakes are made. The Culture Group has rotating membership and the team are currently calling for new members, with a focus on increasing the representative nature of the group.
Objective 2: Our communications and audiences
- We committed, when we published the 2021/22 action plan, to improve our use of data analytics to understand who is accessing our communications materials (on our social media channels, traditional media, and website). We purchased a licence for Hootsuite in September 2021, to enable us to better monitor and evaluate our social media activity. The next six months will see us developing an understanding of who accesses what, and where.
- In terms of how we use our platforms, we are committed to improving the breadth of voice, imagery and issues we highlight. Examples include a campaign about older people for Adult Safeguarding Week, seen by 17,000+ people, highlighting that those aged 61+ experience domestic abuse for twice as long before seeking support; and nearly half are disabled. During Black History Month we worked with Sistah Space to promote their vital Valerie’s Law campaign, and promoted Annie Gibbs’ feature on the Dope Black Women podcast. We posted a series about our commitment to the VAWG sector anti-racism charter and highlighted campaigns by Latin American Women's Rights service and Southall Black Sisters regarding the treatment of and provision for migrant victims of domestic abuse, as well as promoting the campaigns of Karma Nirvana, and the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (Ikwro) regarding child marriage, ‘virginity testing’ and hymenoplasty. In several cases these are also campaigns we are supporting offline, too, through our public affairs team.
- We want to understand people’s qualitative responses to our materials. In the coming six months we will develop a social media strategy that will include updated metrics and evaluation, and develop a campaign schedule to actively platform, amplify and work in collaboration with small, specialist organisations who support minoritised victims of domestic abuse.
- In re-developing our website, we have been working to improve usability and accessibility. The prototype will be tested by both accessibility experts and SafeLives Pioneers (experts on abuse through personal experience). The new website will be more accessible to users with a range of needs. We are also working on making our content more readable, and sourcing images that reflect the diversity of the population.
- At the start of 2021/22 we said we would always consider the diversity of any panels/events that we are hosting, make our events accessible, and feed back to other event hosts about these same commitments so they could do the same. We have made mixed progress on this in the first half of 2021/22 and need to be honest with ourselves that this isn’t yet embedded enough in event planning. In the next six months we will be introducing a new approach to events management, proactively identifying participation opportunities and involving small, specialist organisations as standard. Their involvement will work from key principles such as compensation for their time, and meaningful joint planning, well ahead of time.
Objective 3: Our collaborations, partners and projects
- In the first half of 2021/22 SafeLives has been in formal partnership with multiple organisations, many of whom work from a specialist perspective. This includes Aafda, Chayn, Forward, Galop, Improvement Service Scotland, Hafan Cymru, HOPE Network, Imkaan, Lancashire BME Network, Llamau, The Mix, Muslim Youth Helpline, On Our Radar, PODS, Rights of Women, Super Being Labs, Surviving Economic Abuse, University of Central Lancashire, University College London, Vision Foundation, Women’s Aid England, YANA. We are proud to be working with the Vision Foundation to explore the specific experiences of domestic abuse victims and survivors who are blind or partially sighted. You can hear more about that in our interview with RNIB radio, at this link.
- Formal collaborations to improve the content of our training materials are in place with the introduction of our Anti-Racist Practice Module into the Idva Specialist Course. The module was created by and is delivered by Black, Asian, or racially minoritised guest speakers. We are gathering the feedback from this initial phase of introducing the module from the guest speakers, lead trainers, and learners which will inform a review prior to introducing the module to all 12 Day Foundation Trainings (Idva, Ypva, and Outreach). have been made since summer 2021.
- During 2021 the DA Matters national trainer pool was expanded prior to the Met police delivery. A training event was held in London to attract individuals that better reflected the diverse communities of the capital. In order to retain those individuals going forwards a buddy/mentor scheme and inclusion network were created to help support the new trainers and provide a flow of feedback between the group and the organisation. Feedback from the new trainers has been excellent, and their skills are slowly being incorporated into the wider organisation. In addition, two trainers have gone on to do paid work for the Met Police, helping their officers understand cultural differences. This group meets monthly and will run until February at which point it will be evaluated in terms of effectiveness, and is something that must be continually revisited and sustained to demonstrate continued commitment going forwards.
- We are now members of the Employers Domestic Abuse Covenant, created and led by The Sharan Project, with a particular support offer for women of British-South Asian heritage. Director of Sharan, Polly Harrar, addressed the SafeLives Trustee Board in December 2021, telling them directly what allyship from SafeLives would look like.
- We have been proud to collaborate with many other colleagues who work from a specialist perspective including Al Hasaniya, La Grace de Francois
- We regularly ask colleagues with whom we’re partnering what their experience is of us as an organisation. When we complete our year-end stocktake of progress against the EEDI plan, we will ask for more formal comment, which we commit to reflecting in our public report in a transparent way. SafeLives has more to do to be a good ally to smaller, more specialist organisations, and in recognition of that we asked Meena Kumari and Brandy Hubbard to complete consultation, brought together in a report, about what action colleague organisations would like us to take. This work was completed in December 2021. Themes included the need for greater access to the services SafeLives provides which people rate highly – such as research capability, practice advice and training. There was also a call to make the needs of minoritised groups more central to our public communications, which relates back to Objective 2, above. A working group who will take forward the recommendations in Meena and Brandy’s report has been formed.
Objective 4: Our service delivery
- As above, access to SafeLives training is valued highly by individuals and organisations working from a specialist perspective. In the Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022 we received approximately 350 applications for our open enrolment Foundation courses of which 80 could be classed as small (less than £1mil) or specialist, roughly 22%. The majority of these will be small services rather than specialist services focusing on delivering services to minoritised communities. 98% of learners told us they felt more confident in their role after receiving our Idva training and our Idva Foundation training has an average NPS score of +64.3 since 2021 (on a scale of -100 to +100). Our learners report an increase in knowledge (out of a score of 5) from 3.15 at the beginning of the course to 4.69 at the end of the course. Our learners rate the content of the course a 4.71 out of 5 and the delivery of the course a 4.62 out of 5. We have included notes under Objective 1 on the diversity data for our associate team, the vast majority of whom are associate trainers.
- In the six months to December 2021, data from the Drive partnership identified systemic gaps in provision for high harm perpetrators of domestic abuse, in particular in relation to racialised and LGBT+ communities. The Drive team has focused with partners on building evidence for culturally responsive intervention, including a literature review work with a consortium led by HOPE Training and Consultancy to consider workforce and leadership development issues. The consortium team have recently completed their analysis and will be presenting recommendations regarding what's needed to increase representation and development opportunities for practitioners and leaders from racialised communities within parts of the VAWG sector which respond to perpetrators of abuse.
- The Drive team is undertaking audits of cases with perpetrators from LGBT+ communities to review learning. They are exploring the potential to facilitate roundtables with LGBT+ organisations, researchers and perpetrator-response organisations to share learning, discuss gaps and potential solutions, and consider what role the Drive partnership should play to support specialist organisations.
- SafeLives’ ‘Beacon Site’ pilot programme formally finished in summer 2021, but Insights data we have been able to continue collecting from the two pilot sites in West Sussex and Norfolk shows the demographics of people using the service. We are about to start analysis to understand if there are differences in outcomes for different groups in the sites which might relate to one or more aspects of their identity.
- We launched the Your Best Friend campaign #FriendsCanTell. This was co-created with a group of young people from a range of backgrounds - because we know that this is the best way to reach all young people in partnership with many of the projects listed above.
- We committed to completing an Equality Impact Assessment for each of our projects, however this work has not yet started and still needs to happen.
We said from the outset about our EEDI work that anti-racism would need to be a priority. That continues to be the case, though as outlined above, we are also working on multiple other aspects to make this work as comprehensive as it needs to be. This document provides a really helpful explanation of how organisations try to make the necessary shift to anti-racist practice, and the pitfalls along the way.
At SafeLives, it feels like we’ve reached the stage of high desire for clarity, and for a thorough culture shift, but without all the confidence, yet, that we’ve built up our personal skills, knowledge and ‘relational’ trust to make the full leap to where we want to be. It's human nature to try and simplify complex things, but meaningful change will only come from us being willing to experience uncertainty and complexity, as set out in recent evaluation on cross-cultural training. This demands a lot of people, and particularly people who’ve experienced racism.
Our values statement expresses the ways in which we want to do our work. At this stage of our EEDI development, we want to develop goals which measure process as well as output, how we’re making change. What does a supportive, ‘call in’ culture feel like, as people continue to identify mistakes. We have to resist our own defensiveness to mistakes being pointed out, acknowledge that people’s wellbeing is impacted through those mistakes, and continue to believe that we can develop and improve.