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ESRC £2m award for domestic abuse research

A research team including University of Edinburgh staff has received an ESRC Innovations in Social Care grant to develop the evidence base for innovation in social care for children and families affected by domestic abuse.

The research will contribute to the evidence of what works in support of children who experience domestic abuse, and will also provide an understanding of how other organisations in the UK and internationally might adapt and implement similar services effectively.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded just over £2 million to a team led by the University of Stirling, which includes researchers Claire Houghton, John Devaney and Kay Tisdall from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science. They are working alongside colleagues from the universities of Central Lancashire, Northampton, and East London.

Children and young people who experience domestic abuse have a higher risk of poorer health, mental health, educational, and relationship outcomes. With appropriate support for them and their families, this risk can be reduced and better outcomes supported.

The four-year project will evaluate innovative interventions in social care, criminal justice, and voluntary sector settings, to establish how new developments can improve services and outcomes for children, young people, and their families.

The project, which will run until September 2023, will assess promising developments in social work, criminal justice, and children’s organisations in Scotland and England. It will evaluate the client, service and implementation outcomes of seven innovations.

Those include:

  • Safe and Together’ which aims to improve social work responses to families who experience domestic abuse
  • Operation Encompass, which supports children after police have been called to an incident
  • An innovation to support children who want to be involved in Domestic Homicide Reviews.
  • Four interventions to support mothers and children recovering from domestic abuse.

The aim is for the project’s findings to inform future developments in domestic abuse and in social care more broadly.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair said:

“How best to deliver social care is one of the great public policy challenges of our time so it is crucial that we develop a robust evidence base of how, why and where effective innovation happens, and how it might be scaled up. These four collaborative, long-term projects will contribute greatly to this understanding, and therefore lead to improvements in people’s lives.”

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