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Provided by IRISi, the IRIS Programme is a specialist domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training, support and referral programme for General Practices that has been delivered thanks to funding from the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in 7 boroughs in London since January 2020. The initiative is one of many supported by the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime in London (MOPAC). Using IRISi’s expertise and know how in this field, the VRU commissioned the organisation to deliver a 12-month programme divided into 2 phases: the first designed areas to receive the IRIS programme were Tower Hamlets, Croydon, and Barking and Dagenham; then, the initiative also reached Brent, Ealing, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham in its second and final phase.  As always, the IRIS programme was delivered in partnership with local, specialist DVA organisations.

The first three sites were launched just before the first lockdown, which brought up several challenges, especially because the programme had to be immediately adapted from face to face to online training, advocacy and support. Phase 2 sites went into hibernation. They were eventually launched in October 2020 and recruitment and training of the trainers was completed in November 2020.

The commissioning was originally scheduled to finish on 31st of March 2021, but after all the difficulties imposed by COVID-19, the VRU agreed to extend the delivery timeframe and budget to allow the finish to be by 31st March 2022, with final reports and evaluation by June 2022.

“Due to the commitment and ongoing support from the VRU, we are able to continue delivery of the IRIS Programme for a few more months and we are hoping that we can increase the number of identification and referrals into the service whilst there is funding and AEs in post.  We are working hard with local partners to ensure re-commissioning happens at all 7 sites so that the referral pathways remain open to all patients beyond the VRU funding.”, explains Dr Shim Vereker, Contracts and Programme manager at VRU sites.

The operational delivery of IRIS in 7B programme ended last 31st March 2022, and to celebrate our achievements, we asked the IRIS Advocate Educators and the Clinical Leads from Brent, Ealing, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham to share their experiences with the IRIS Programme. We also invited clinicians trained by the IRIS Programme to speak out about the initiative. These are their words!

[Advocate Educators]

“I have felt the training to be very beneficial for practices. I received interest in IRIS training from staff because they could understand the benefits of it and how this learning is needed. Clinical Lead has been very supportive with linking in with practices resulting in attendance at a couple of meetings and staff have been interactive during training and felt the training was useful.”

“The last three months, for me personally, has been an extremely positive experience. This period has enabled me to connect more with clinicians over the last three months. My confidence with the training material has made it easier to work directly with GPs and give more time to answer GP queries and open more discussions around their individual practice.”

“Our partnership with the specialist service organisation has allowed me to learn a lot around harmful traditional practices, forced marriage, FGM and different cultures and I was able to project this onto the training which has made me more confident in answering questions. Their input has positively influenced our training as it incorporates all aspects of Domestic Violence and Abuse – especially different cultural practices that before we were less familiar with.”

[Clinical Leads]

“The IRIS programme has been invaluable in providing busy clinicians a succinct and practical reminder of how Domestic Abuse is permeating through the lives of the patients they see. As a Clinical Lead, it has been heartening to hear feedback from my GP colleagues on how relevant and useful they have found the training aspect of the IRIS programme. I have also found the adaptation of the IRIS model to reflect more virtual consultations has been a welcome update for clinicians, along with a timely reminder of the potential risk posed from disclosure to potential perpetrators through virtual consultations or online access to records.”

– Saral Anand

“The IRIS Clinical lead role is my first role as a Clinical lead. It has been an invaluable experience in developing leadership skills as a newly qualified GP and the flexible working has allowed me to do so alongside other personal and professional responsibilities. It has also given me the opportunity to network with a wide range of practices and GPs in my local area, whom I may not have met otherwise.

Most importantly, it has helped to continue my professional development and understanding of domestic violence and abuse and the associated safeguarding issues in addition to giving me the opportunity to influence the healthcare response to these locally.” 

Amisha Babla

“As a clinical lead, the IRIS programme continues to be an excellent opportunity to further enhance my DV knowledge to support clinicians around presentations to primary care. This has enabled me to provide confidence to clinicians with the tools to support sensitive questioning, risk assessment and how to respond to consultations appropriately. As a single point of contact and safeguarding expert, clinicians are grateful for the holistic advice and signposting”.  

– Lesley Tilson

[Clinicians trained by the IRIS Programme]

“’Having received our initial training, those that attended felt it immediately changed their practice. The session highlighted the prevalence of DV, particularly within the COVID era and very much put it at the forefront of our minds when speaking to patients. We were able to discuss the challenges that phone consulting poses and discussed ways to overcome these. In the space of 6 weeks, I have referred two patients to the service and on both occasions both the patient and I have only positive feedback to give. The speed of response from both our nominated advocate and the service management was as promised within 24 hours. I received email updates when contact had been made with the patient, which given the context of the referral, I have found to be hugely reassuring”

“After the session, the team sent us some very useful prompts to help initiate these conversations with patients and we have all used these in our practice. A nominated individual whom I can contact by both email and telephone is invaluable. I would highly recommend any surgery engage in the teaching so that they may utilise the service.”

“Thank you so much, this has already impacted my practice and I have had a disclosure from a patient in a culturally sensitive situation where I have felt equipped to help.”

“Such a difficult area to draw patients to disclose and not be sure of what to do if they do. Now a better idea and not so fearful of asking and opening Pandora’s box!”

[VRU Sites – Phase 02]

  • Launch: October 2020
  • Delivery start date: November 2020
  • Partner agencies: Advance in partnership with Asian Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC)
  • Number of Practices fully trained*: 63
  • Number of Patients referred into IRIS service*: 202

*[data from November 2020 – December 2021]


IRIS is a specialist domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training, support and referral programme for General Practices that has been positively evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.

IRIS is a collaboration between primary care and third sector organisations specialising in DVA.  Core areas of the programme include ongoing training, education and consultancy for the clinical team and administrative staff, care pathways for primary health care practitioners and an enhanced referral pathway to specialist domestic violence services for patients with experience of DVA.




AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project



SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.



Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.


The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.



Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.


Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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