Evaluating Victim Empowerment Projects – Part Two
The VEP (Victim Empowerment Projects) fieldwork was completed in November 2003. As indicated in the last edition of Phatlalatsa most projects were funded prior to 1999. This was quite a challenge since S&T had to trace all the organisations that were provided with funding.
We received proposals that had been submitted to the Department of Social
Development by applicants – 83 in total. In the first step we phoned every
project to find out if they were still operational. At the end of this exercise
we were left with about 38 projects that had received funding.
Of the 83 we found that some projects had indeed applied for funding but had
not been provided with any. Others mentioned that they had been told that they
would receive funding but in the end did not get any. Those projects who did not
receive funding expressed that they did not want to be part of the study.
In the second step we designed a questionnaire and conducted telephonic
interviews with project managers or project co-ordinators to find out about
issues such as:
• when they had received funding;
• funding received;
• how they had heard about funding;
• staff issues and so on.
For example, we found that 95% of projects had received funding directly
whilst 5% mentioned that they had received funding from other sources. A
majority of projects, 51% mentioned that they did not have full time staff and
that their projects were operated by volunteers.
Types of services offered by VEP
We found that most projects offered the following services:
• Counselling (81%)
• Referrals (97%)
• Victim support (97%)
• Crime prevention (81%)
Other services include: assisting the community to apply for grants, court
and case preparation, HIV counselling and so on. The majority of projects, 88%
mentioned that their service was free of charge. We also found that only 44% of
projects had women and children as their main target.
Once we had completed interviewing project managers and or co-ordinators we
then drew a sample (stratified by province and funding) of 14 projects that we
would visit in the second phase.
During our visit to these projects we found that VEP projects:
• are performing quite important work particularly in the case of abused
women and children;
• often operate from private houses, hospitals as well as police stations,
and therefore only had to pay minimal rent; and
• are staffed mainly by women and/or young people who are committed to
assisting their communities in fighting sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Challenges faced by VEP projects included:
• Sustainability, particularly because it was difficult to obtain funding.
• The absence of any form of guidelines on how to operate VEP projects.
• The absence of a viable VEP Project Network, so individual projects knew
very little about each other's work and area of expertise.
• The lack of funding to hire full-time social workers.
In conclusion we found that VEP, however, felt that they were doing a good
job especially those who work closely with the SAPS.