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SOCIAL CARE: Evaluation of Southampton City Council’s Male Engagement Worker (MEW) Project

Chief Investigator: Dr Michelle Myall, Principal Research Fellow, University of Southampton

Co-Investigators: Dr Sophia Taylor, Senior Research Assistant, University of Southampton; Dr Susi Lund, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Southampton

Partners who will collaborate on the research: Anjelica Finnegan, Senior Male Engagement Worker, Southampton City Council; Caroline Bate, Domestic Abuse Coordinator, Southampton City Council; Colin McAllister, Senior Public Health Practitioner, Southampton City Council; Francesca Mountfort, Male Engagement Worker, Southampton City Council

Start Date: 19 October 2023

End date: 30 September 2024

Why is this research needed?

An estimated 2.4 million adults experienced domestic abuse in 2019 in England and Wales. In April 2021 the Domestic Abuse Act was introduced in England and Wales. This created a new definition of domestic abuse to include “any incidents or patterns of incidents of controlling, coercive, or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over, who are or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. Domestic abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse”. The Act required local authorities to expand their support and provision available to those experiencing domestic abuse.


As part of a review by Southampton City Council into whether it meets the requirements of the new Act it found that alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse are not being effectively assessed or adequately supported. This is particularly true of young (step-) fathers.


To address this gap, in 2020 Southampton City Council established a Male Engagement Worker (MEW) Project to work with high-risk male perpetrators of domestic abuse who have (step-) children and have local authority children’s services involved. This newly established service has yet to be evaluated.


What are the aims?

To  evaluate Southampton City Council’s new domestic abuse service focusing around

the newly created Male Engagement Worker Project.


How will the study be carried out?

We will carry out interviews with key informants and relevant stakeholders and analyse audit data collected about the service.


What will happen to the findings?

We will work with our project partners to identify who we need to engage and how to reach them. We will share findings with stakeholders through a presentation. We will produce a report and executive summary of findings and recommendations for Southampton City Council and share learnings with other relevant local authority and third sector organisations. Findings will also be reported on social media posts for the wider public, publications in academic and professional journals and attendances at conferences.


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