This case study forms part of Women’s Resource Centre’s (WRC) response to the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services’ call for evidence about lessons from coronavirus. It focuses upon lessons that local women’s voluntary organisations and grassroots community groups (VCOs), have learned during the COVID-19 crisis.

The case study is the result of collaboration between WRC, the leading national umbrella organisation for the women’s VCS; and Listening to Women’s Voices (LtWV), a forum that compliments and links together those who are providing dedicated services for women in Sunderland. The case study covers:

a) How, in Sunderland, already unacceptable levels of women’s inequalities have worsened because of the COVID-19 crisis (Question 10)
b) The new pressures the COVID-19 crisis has placed upon already hard-pressed women’s VCOs (Question 10)
c) How women, particularly those with additional protected characteristics are less able to access needed services during lockdown (Question 10)
d) New ways in which the public sector and women’s VCOs have collaborated to meet this increased need during the COVID-19 crisis (Question 20)
e) How women’s VCOs have increased the effectiveness of public services in:
i. identifying and meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged women, who are frequently marginalised from public services (Question 9)
ii. Supporting women with multiple and intersecting (“complex”) needs (Question 9)
f) The lessons to be learnt for reducing inequalities from the new approaches adopted by services during the COVID-19 outbreak (Question 11)
g) How local women’s VCOs and grassroots community groups could be better integrated into local systems going forward (Question 20)


It is one of three complementary papers submitted by WRC. The other papers are:

Lessons about the role of women’s charities in delivering public services | A position paper by Women’s Resource Centre, June 2020

Lessons from Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Case study: London VAWG Consortium, June 2020