Calan DVS Inspiring Families Programme: Case Study Interview



26th February 2020


Sue Penna

The Inspiring Families Programme, developed by Rock Pool in 2016, is an innovative intervention and assessment of families where domestic abuse is an identified component and the families have chosen to stay together.

It provides professionals with a robust framework to assess the parents’ behaviour, the level of current risk and the likelihood of future risk. It also identifies the potential for change and reduction of risk within the family, or indeed, whether the risk is too high or the potential for change too low to make working with the family a viable option.

Calan DVS rolled out this training in March 2018, and Project Manager Michael Dix-Williams kindly agreed to tell us all about the programme, and the difference it has made to areas of Wales:

Can you provide some background on your organisation and your services?

Calan DVS is a specialist domestic violence charity. We are based in South Wales and we cover Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Ammanford and South Powys in Mid-Wales. The organisation was formed in 2012 as a result of a merger between Neath and Lliw Valley Women’s Aid, with additional Women’s Aid groups joining in later years including; Brecknock Women’s Aid and Bridgend Women’s Aid.

We provide a range of domestic violence and abuse support services, supporting victims of domestic abuse and their children.

Our core services include:

  • Accommodation including; refuges and move on properties.
  • Support in the community
  • Drop in centres
  • Group programmes
  • Children and Young People services
  • Awareness raising in schools, colleges.
  • Training   

At Calan we adopt a service-user centred and needs-led approach to service-delivery. Inspiring Families is one of the programmes we deliver which takes a trauma-informed to supporting the whole family where domestic abuse is a known component but they want to stay together. This unique approach has been proven to deliver lasting change for families and for agencies providing support.

How did you hear about Rock Pool? Have you worked with the organisation before?

Our relationship with Rock Pool goes back to before the Inspiring Families programme, as Rock Pool was delivering training for Calan in different areas. The relationship between Sue Penna and Calan’s former CEO had been nurtured for a couple of years, and there was a lot of discussion around Inspiring Families when the pilot took place in Slough. There was a missing link in Wales, and we decided to work with Rock Pool to deliver it. It was in 2017 that they began providing training to enable us to begin delivery.

When did you implement the Inspiring Families programme?

We had our first families on the programme in January 2018. We’ve now worked with in excess of 100 families across the Neath and Port Talbot, Bridgend and Powys areas of Wales and have achieved many positive outcomes for families affected by domestic violence and abuse who wanted to overcome their issues and remain together. 

Can you talk me through why you felt this would be important for your organisation and those that you support?

There are many families for whom domestic abuse is a known component of the relationship, but who want to stay together. There was nothing that looked  to identify what the problems are and resolve the issues. Inspiring Families provides practical steps to reduce the risk a family is living in.

The programme is an assessment not an intervention and delivers insight into what’s going on in these homes. The family has a better chance of reconciling their relationship and public services get to use their money more effectively. This programme also enables and empowers victims to assess their situation and throughout our delivery of the programme we have supported women and children to safely leave the abusive relationship.

We understand that risk is dynamic and changes regularly within the family setting; this alone can make it difficult for professionals to understand the underpinning influences at play and to support the whole family to live in an environment where risk is managed and progress can be made. Having an accurate assessment of the levels of risk is really important to ensuring the safety of the victim and the children in an abusive environment, however having further qualitative information which accurately highlights the abuse typology that is present within the home and indeed the true potential for change is really important to the next stages of decision making for professionals who are tasked with risk assessing and supporting the family concerned.

What has been the outcome of the training / implementation of the programme?

Our decision to work with Rock Pool and bring this assessment programme to Wales has been a hugely successful one and the Programme and Cost Benefit Analysis of the relationship has demonstrated exceptional results. The Inspiring Families programme that we delivered in Neath and Port Talbot saves the taxpayer an estimated £6 per every £1 that is spent, whilst a study of the first eight families to complete the programme in the same region showed estimated average taxpayer savings of £9,317 per family. (See full report here)

A separate audit of outcomes for families concluded that 74% of families completing the programme enjoyed a positive change in their family circumstances, In 72% of cases the family were able to live together following intervention and in 89% of case it was evident that domestic violence had reduced following Inspiring Families participation.

The analysis really highlights the potential of the programme as a sustainable way of working for agencies; and most importantly as a resource that helps families improve relationships and live together in healthier and safer environments.

Would you recommend / work with Rock Pool again?

Yes we would definitely; the organisation has really innovative ideas. Rock Pool identifies the need for resources that help organisations to diversify their services and ultimately results in better support for more people.

Find out more about Rock Pool’s Inspiring Families Programme here

Find out more about Calan DVS here

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