Trainer and consultant improving lives of women and families
Clare has a professional background spanning 27 years that started with Social Work with the local authority but moved to the voluntary sector to work with therapeutic communities, in drugs rehabilitation and women’s homelessness and domestic violence.
As the Deputy Director and Joint Chief Executive of WomenCentre, the largest women’s centre in the UK, Clare worked with a committed Board and colleagues to achieve growth, organisational capability, innovative practice, external recognition and increase the influence of the organisation.
WomenCentre has developed and maintained an integrated one-stop-shop approach to working with women offering a safe, involving and empowering space for women. This approach has proven to be effective in providing high quality services to marginalised and disempowered women and their families. The teams include domestic violence services in communities and prison, community interventions and support packages for women offenders, women’s mental health provision, refugee and asylum seeker services, counselling, advice, drop-ins and learning opportunities, including accredited volunteer training. The organisation has a turnover of approximately £1m, employs 56 staff and manages 65 trained volunteers. 4,500 women access services each year. Despite complexity and specialist provision, WomenCentre the chance for women to gain trust and shape the wraparound approach that best meets their needs and aspirations as well as those of their children.
As the organisation has increased in influence it has built links with high level partners to support the dissemination of our key messages and operating models. This year WomenCentre looks forward to the launch of a report by its partners, the Care Services Improvement Partnership and the Centre for Welfare Reform. The Report features the WomenCentre organisation as an ideal model of womencentred, empowering provision as a solution to the non effective siloed, complexity of current public service delivery to socially marginalised women and their families.
Clare has been experiencing contrasting effects of the current political context on WomenCentre as a Third Sector organisation. The WomenCentre has been able to position itself as a part of the solution to cuts in public service, through more efficient integrated commissioning for the whole local cohort of vulnerable women. A current challenge is the remarketing of the organisational offer to women through the new models of coproduction, Big Society and GP commissioned primary health services, using leverage of community based power to better reach women and families in our communities. At a national level, the Big Society principles and spending cuts across government departments is demanding a systems transformation and an imperative to influence any change to empower and support the most vulnerable people in our society.
Clare is currently leading on a place based commissioning project with sponsorship from the Ministry of Justice Women’s Strategy Unit and with leadership support from the Chief Executive and the Leader of Calderdale Council. This is an approach that is daring to redefine the way the way in which the needs of vulnerable women and families are met in the future through a single commissioning model and listening closely to those women themselves.