Collaboration not Competition

‘Collaboration not competition’ – an important message that was raised by the Women’s Resource Centre at a recent event that was attended by LimeCulture.

LimeCulture wholeheartedly agrees with the WRC when they say that collaboration, not competition, is key to the survival of many specialist organisations. LimeCulture believe that the sexual violence sector could benefit enormously from the concept of collaboration.

Here is why. In the past, the specialist sexual violence sector have not always coordinated their responses and have not worked together as a united sector. In fact on some occasions, they have been openly divided by political and theoretical differences of opinion. Some sexual violence organisations have been in direct competition with other sexual violence organisations and have become competitive about the services that they provide. While competition can, in some circumstances, drive up standards and offer choice, it can also isolate and holt innovation and development.

Today we find ourselves in challenging climates. The budgets are getting smaller and its harder to get a slice of the cake. We are now being asked to enter competitive tendering arrangements to win contracts. Gone are the days when a ‘grant’ arrangement could be quickly put in place for an organisations that needs bailing out. Today it is all about contracts. It is all about service delivery. It is all about evidencing your outcomes. Its about showing YOUR bang for THEIR buck.

While the benefits and the disadvantages of competitive tendering can be argued, it is definitely time the sexual violence sector is properly funded. In order to be properly funded, organisations needs to be commissioned, and contracted. Unfortunately, many small organisations are not yet commissioner-ready. They are not used to competitive tendering arrangements and they are still not used to evidencing their outcomes. Unless these organisations get themselves ready or in shape, they could very likely loose out.

There are so many fantastic organisations and individual professionals that work in the field of sexual violence. There is so much fantastic practice that goes on and we really must make sure that this is not lost. LimeCulture believes that is is time that the sexual violence sector collaborate to learn from each other by sharing experiences, identifying solutions to shared or common problems, work together to win contracts, and most importantly,  collaborate to create something remarkable.


A very inspiring International Women’s Day

LimeCulture was privileged to be invited to attend an event held last week to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March . The event was organised by the British Pregnancy Adviser Service (BPAS) and Women’s Resource Centre.

The event was put on because these two organisations believe that ‘Women’s sector organisations working to influence policy have had a difficult time recently. The challenges posed by public spending cuts that disproportionately affect women, development of policy that doesn’t accurately reflect women’s needs and attacks on issues like abortion have all caused significant problems. However, there have been notable successes’.

LimeCulture and a range of other organisations were invited to attend the event to discuss and share experiences with colleagues in the women’s sector. It was a great event with some really inspirational women who are working hard to make things better for other women.

We heard from Hannanah Siddiqui from Southall Black Sisters, an award winning organisation that campaigns on behalf of women from the black and minority ethnic communities. Hannanah told us about the work that her organisation is doing on the ‘Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds’ Campaign. We then heard from Ros Bragg from Maternity Action who told us about the work they have been doing recently to safeguard the rights of women who are pregnant or have just had babies. The final speaker was from the Women’s Resource Centre, and spoke of the importance of women’s organisations working together in collaboration, not competition, if they are to survive into the future.

The whole event was excellent. It was great to see people sharing their successes and achievements. LimeCulture certainly hopes to be part of any future events of this sort.


Should a victim of sexual violence meet with the prosecutor before the trial begins?

Recently a number of ISVAs have asked whether a victim can meet the prosecutor who will be presenting their case before the matter goes to trial i.e. before the trial date.
In some areas, although this has been encouraged by the ISVAs, the police have intimated that counsel (ie the prosecutor) is unhappy for this to happen and as a result they are openly discouraging such meetings. This view is at variance with the CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Rape.

That policy directs that where it is intended to apply for special measures for a witness, the CPS should ask the police to find out if the witness would like to meet the prosecutor. The policy goes on to explain that the purpose of such a meeting is to build trust and confidence and to enable the prosecutor to reassure the witness that their needs will be taken into account.
Likewise the policy also indicates that on the day of trial the prosecutor presenting the case should speak to victims and witnesses before they give evidence and try to put them at ease and to explain the court process to them.

However it is important to note that in those meetings prosecutors are not permitted to discuss the detail of the case with a witness.
It is also recognised as good practice, wherever possible, to coordinate the victim’s court familiarisation visit with their special measures meeting and the conference with counsel so that the victim may meet the trial advocate ahead of the trial.

So, given the above, if this practice is discouraged in the future, please use CPS policy to further your argument in favour of the meeting.
A full copy of the policy can be found at