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1. User Centred
Our work is situated within the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) agenda, and we believe that VAWG is both the cause and consequence of gender inequality. We aim therefore to address gender inequality in every way we are able to. Our work aims to empower women themselves to shape change. Staffordshire Women’s Aid is run by women for women and children. Our ethos of women-centred organisation works across our staffing and volunteering policies and approaches, and we strongly espouse women’s leadership.
2. Women-only spaces
We deliver our services to women and their children in safe, women only spaces. Where we work with male victims, we follow the best practice guidelines based on sound research and deliver this in safe separate venues to our women only spaces.
(Recommendations from Respect, the largest national membership and accrediting organisation for work with male victims).
Research shows that our approach works as a therapeutic model for women and their children as follows:
(Women’s Resource Centre report/research, 2006)
3. Women’s Leadership
As an organisation run by women for women, we work to encourage our staff, volunteers and service users towards women’s leadership because we believe that this is a cornerstone in the journey towards gender equality. We have an all women Board of Trustees, as well as volunteer and staff team. We are one of the early refuge organisations in the UK, set up in the 1970s, and so are part of the movement that led the way in changing attitudes towards domestic violence. We are proud of our heritage of women’s leadership, and our practice aims to build upon this at every level.
4. Team Working
It is a core requirement of all staff and volunteers that they espouse our Vision, Mission and Social Objectives/outcomes, our Values, and our Practice Principles. These bring us together in common cause, and we are committed to working as a strong team with shared principles and values. As an organisation we espouse a feminist ethos and we will work in ways that encourage, support and nurture a team ethos, and we will train our staff and volunteers to understand that being a team player is key to our expectations of them.
We recognise that many of our potential service users are in crisis and/or at risk, and may need to contact us out of office hours. We are therefore committed to 24 hour emergency availability, 365 days of the year. We provide this via our 24 hour Help Line.
We aim to make our services available and accessible to all women and children who are living with, escaping or recovering from the impacts of abuse and violence, whatever their background or specific needs. We strive to embed this in all of our policies and procedures, and in our forward development.
7. Valuing Diversity
We value diversity, and believe that a strong ethos towards diversities enhances organisations. We will work to ensure that all groups of women and children feel that our services are accessible to them, and responsive to their needs. We will strive never to discriminate against any woman or child accessing our services, nor any volunteer or staff team member. This will be embedded in our policies and procedures, in our publicity and awareness raising, in our partnerships, and in our Equalities and Diversities strategy.
We aim to place service users at the centre of the support we offer, and use a strengths based approach where they are able to identify their situation, the solutions available, their individual needs and work with us in planning and meeting these needs. We will strive to work so that wherever possible, service users experiences are given the opportunity to be heard by ourselves and by other agencies.
9. Confidentiality and Trust
We recognise that confidentiality is a central element of providing a safe resource for women and children living with, escaping or recovering from the impacts of domestic and sexual violence. It is a frequently a priority in helping to keep them safe, and a cornerstone of trust in our services.
Where there are limits on our pledge of confidentiality (such as in cases of Safeguarding), we will be clear and honest with our service users.
Our commitment to confidentiality is outlined in our Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy.
10. Non-judgmental approach
We will train and support our staff and volunteers to work with an approach which does not judge the experiences of service users based on their own personal views or experiences.
11. Choice and Self-determination
Our approach is to enable women and children to make informed choices about their lives. While we support and inform our service users, and where required, advocate on their behalf, we strive to ensure that they are the agents of their choices and decisions.
12. Professional Boundaries
We are passionate about our work with women and children, but we recognise that there are power dynamics in our relationships, and that we are providing a service. We will ensure that all staff and volunteers have a strong understanding of professional boundaries, and this is embedded in our training, and in policies and procedures such as the Protection From Abuse Policy.
We believe that all staff and volunteers should be accountable for decisions and actions carried out in their work for Staffordshire Women’s Aid.
We work to implement this principle through policies and procedures, clear lines of responsibility, and a strong record keeping ethos.
We also believe we are accountable to those stakeholders that fund our services, and we will work to ensure that we monitor and evaluate our work efficiently so that we can evidence our performance as an organisation, and can demonstrate the outcomes of our work clearly and honestly.
14. Partnership Working
In order to meet the needs of the women and children we exist to support, it is crucial that we work in positive partnership with a range of statutory and voluntary agencies, with the general public and with local groups and businesses. We will work in line with our Partnership Working Policy, and strive for a multi-agency approach to meeting needs.
15. User Centred Services
We will ensure that we consult with and listen to our service users, and take their views into the forward development of our services, and embed this not only into our Service User Inclusion Policy, but in all of our policies and procedures. We will document and take all complaints and comments seriously, and wherever possible, act upon these in the development of our work. We will work on their behalf so that wherever possible our service users have a voice in our communities about not only our services, but to communicate their experiences of abuse and violence, and to have a stake in how services more widely are developed.
Staffordshire Women’s Aid is committed to safeguarding children as outlined in our Child Protection Policy and Procedures, and to safeguarding the rights and safety of vulnerable adults, as outlined in our Vulnerable Adults Policy. We are committed to ensuring our staff and volunteers are regularly trained to required standards on their duties regarding Safeguarding, and are able to implement our policies and procedures accordingly.
17. Research and knowledge
With over 40 years’ experience in the sector, we believe that research is essential to the forward development of the work and practice of our organisation and our sector. We base our work on up to date research and well evidenced best practice. We also work to develop our own research base and contribute to research in our fields at local, regional, national and international levels.
18. Staff Development and Professionalism
We are committed to the highest possible standard of services, and in empowering and investing in our staff and volunteer teams to deliver these.
Our training, supervision and appraisal policies and procedures are underlined by this ethos, and we continually review this to ensure our standards are appropriate and of the best possible quality.
19. Quality Standards
We believe that we have a duty to demonstrate that our organisation and its work is endorsed by external quality audits and standards. We aim to achieve appropriate accreditation and/or Quality Marks in all areas of our work so that our service users, supporters, staff and stakeholders can feel confident in the standards of work we are offering.