LimeCulture hosts Commissioners’ Symposium

As part of our (Home Office funded) Spreading Excellence project, LimeCulture hosted a Commissioners’ Symposium in central London last week (20 February).

The Symposium, which was attended by 40 local commissioners, was an invaluable opportunity to bring together local NHS England, Police and Crime Commissioner offices, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authority commissioners to share knowledge and provide a unique opportunity to focus on improving the provision of sexual violence support services through the commissioning process by:

  • Identifying and exploring common themes, challenges and solutions relating to commissioning of local support services,
  • Sharing examples of success stories, as well as areas for improvement,
  • Providing recommendations of how capacity amongst the sexual violence sector can be stimulated to enable better service provision.

The background to this important work is that many sexual violence services, particular in the voluntary and community sector, are increasingly reliant on funding from local commissioners in order to provide their vital services for victims/survivors of sexual violence. However, many services claim that local commissioners do not understand the importance of the work they do, and are overlooking their services in favour of funding other (often bigger and non specialist) service providers.Many providers also claim they do not have the capacity or expertise to respond to complex procurement tenders,and instead rely on central funding pots for survival.

Conversely, commissioners claim some aspects of the sexual violence voluntary sector is not ‘commissioner ready’, lacking the ability to provide services to meet their specifications and are not always well placed to respond to monitoring requirements because of their lack of resources and capacity.

Despite a general acknowledgement that local sexual violence services are an important provision, to date there has been no forum that brings together commissioners, policy leads, and service providers to focus together on building capacity and capability of sexual violence services. Instead at a national level, these key stakeholder groups broadly work in isolation, meaning their expertise, knowledge and skill is not often brought together to jointly focus on improving outcomes for victims/survivors through building capacity and capability of service provision.

LimeCulture’s Spreading Excellence project aims to ensure freely available and focused support focusing on the commissioning process is available to the whole range of sexual violence voluntary sector organisations. This support will be developed through the engagement of local Commissioners, policy advices and other service providers to meaningfully collaborate.

In November 2018, LimeCulture CIC hosted the first meeting of a newly-formed National Working Group. The Working Group identified that the key enabler for this Project is a specific focus on improving knowledge around the commissioning process relating to sexual violence support services. This will be delivered by coproducing a suite of information guides intended for providers. Resources will be shared online and at a Knowledge & Network Event for sexual violence voluntary sector organisations to build capacity through sharing of learning, experience and suggestions from the Commissioners’ Symposium.

The morning session of the Commissioners’ Symposium included three panel discussions focusing on the policy leads’ view, the providers’ view and the commissioners’ view. All three panels prompted invaluable wider discussion about the challenges faced by providers in relation to local commissioning arrangements, with a number of practical solutions identified that would support service providers with this process.

During the Symposium’s afternoon session, the attendees focused on specific elements of the commissioning cycle with a view to making practical recommendations that can support providers with that process.

LimeCulture would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who attended and contributed to this fantastic event. It was a pleasure to observe the clear commitment to improving services for victims/survivors of sexual violence that exists amongst the full range of commissioners that attended the Symposium.

The key outcome of the Symposium will be the development of practical guidance for providers of sexual violence, which will be launched at a free Knowledge and Network Event for providers that will take place in May 2019.

If you would like to know more about LimeCulture’s Spreading Excellence programme, please email


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