Impact story: look out for existing research

Sikh Women’s Action Network (SWAN) is a small organisation based in West Midlands, funded by West Midlands Police and the National Lottery. It was set up primarily to serve the Sikh community, although it is now open to all, raising awareness of different forms of abuse, the impact of abuse and where to seek help.

Sikh women, generally, do not report domestic abuse or grooming, but SWAN’s team of staff and volunteers hear about such incidents through their helpline and through frontline work. This work includes visiting victims of abuse, being their advocates and accompanying them in court cases. Court cases have been taking place through teleconferences during the coronavirus pandemic. SWAN staff/volunteers are classed as frontline workers; they have been given PPE and have been able to ‘physically distance’ visit their clients, fill in paperwork and provide ongoing support.

Using existing research

As their work can take place over many months, SWAN staff/volunteers use a ‘wheel of life’ score both at the start and at the end of their work with a user, maintaining all user information in a database. They use tools such as the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) within their children’s counselling services. Such tools enable them to keep track of progress and to measure distance travelled. SWAN also receives unsolicited letters and texts commenting and providing feedback on the support they have received.

Be mindful of relationships when collecting data

Information gathered is used in many ways. They hold ‘development days’ to reflect on practice and learn together so that they continuously improve the services they offer. They share letters and texts received, maintaining anonymity, to demonstrate their achievement of outcomes as part of fundraising applications. They feel able to show the value of having a specialised service that mainstream services are unable to provide due to funding cuts and also ‘because we understand cultural barriers’.


One challenge that SWAN faces in its impact practice is to analyse the distance-travelled data collected: ‘How do you then translate that into facts and figures and … do the analysis?’

This is important in order to provide evidence to show clinical commissioning groups, demonstrating how SWAN has prevented referrals, for example to CAMHS (Child and Mental Health Services).

If you are thinking of doing something similar we suggest you:

  1. Think about what already exists outside your organisation. Check out more about how can you compare your data to understand it in a wider context here. 
  2. Learn about ethics and data protection. Check out more here. 

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