About the Women’s Commissioning Support Unit

The Women’s Commissioning Support Unit was a 3 year pilot project, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and headed by the WRC, which aimed to develop the strategic and delivery capacity of the women’s voluntary sector by establishing regional partnerships of women’s organisations in Greater Manchester, the North East, Cambridgeshire, and the West Midlands.

By December 2017, the project had engaged with and given support to a total of 158 women’s organisations, facilitated 61 workshops, and ran 15 regional network and commissioner events.

North East

20 women’s organisations based in the North East formed Women First.

The partnership has two purposes – to co-ordinate and expand women and girl’s support services through collaboration, innovation and enterprise, and for members to become more resilient and able to respond effectively to tender and funding opportunities through partnership and collaboration.

The partnership offers holistic and integrated counselling and listening services that help women to care for their families, stay in work and return to work after sickness

This partnership was formally launched in May 2018 and was facilitated by Sue Robson.

Greater Manchester

16 BME women’s organisations from Oldham and adjacent locations formed the Mama Health and Poverty Partnership, which focuses on eradicating health inequalities and poverty faced by BME women.

This partnership was facilitated by Dionne Nelson (dionne@wrc.org.uk), who also managed the WCSU project as a whole.

West Midlands

5 women’s organisations formed the Women’s Justice Partnership, which aims to support women who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

In 2017 the WJP, with Birmingham Cross City Clinical Commissioning Group as lead, won £663,076 from the Violence Against Women and Girls Transformation Fund to run the ASSIST (Assessment, Support, Signposting, Intervention, Safeguarding & Trauma) project. This project aims to improve the support available for women with complex needs in the West Midlands.


The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Women’s Consortium (CPWC) is made up of seven independent, community-based specialist women-led organisations: Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre, Cambridge Women’s Aid, Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre, One Voice for Travellers, Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group, Peterborough Women’s Aid and Turtle Dove Cambridge. The Consortium is currently comprised of independent organisations led by and for women or by and for Roma, Gypsy and Traveller women.

CPWC members specialise in and have long-standing track records of working with some of the most vulnerable members of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s communities, including young women excluded or at risk of exclusion as a result of not being in employment education or training, offending behaviour, engagement in prostitution, and/or experience of abuse.

Through working in partnership, CPWC are seeking to establish joint data, research and information to evidence the need for women and girls’ services and to ensure accessible support and prevention services for all women, young women and girls across the recently co-joined commissioning region of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

CPWC officially launched on 28th December 2017 at a well-attended event that brought together service providers, commissioners, third and statutory sector practitioners.