English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups feature

Making a difference

An introduction to the work of the Effective Services for Vulnerable Groups (ESVG) programme and Delivery Board

The ESVG programme was set up to support effective service design and delivery. It is overseen by a delivery board that draws in expertise and leadership from wider public services across wales. the approach is deliberately cross public service and the board is led by Jeff Farrar, chief constable of Gwent Police, supported by chief executives and directors from across a range of public service in Wales.

The work programme aims to identify, promote and support the development of collaborative approaches to delivery that will provide more effective and efficient services that can improve the life chances of vulnerable people and groups.

The focus remains on a limited number of issues at a time, prioritising those that have been identified by wider public service in Wales as having high impact and of benefit locally. There is an explicit focus on services which support the most vulnerable people in our society, who are less able to cope without support yet often experience the greatest difficulty in accessing and using the services that could help.

Commissions by the ESVG Delivery Board take a pragmatic approach, mapping current approaches and identifying effective practices. Projects are intended to move understanding forward not produce definitive or exhaustive pieces of research. A core theme is supporting the shift to preventative approaches through projects on earlier intervention, for example, the missing children project and work around domestic abuse. Joining up services is another area, for example, enabling older people to live independently for as long as possible or adoption of ‘team around the family’ approaches. These projects are identifying and sharing best practice on joining up services through national, regional and local leadership groups.

The programme takes an explicitly project-based approach, with nine projects currently in the pipeline looking at specific issues such as helping prevent childhood obesity and housing for people with mental health problems. The housing project report was published recently and a more in- depth article about it is also included in this edition of WHQ (see p42-43).

The key question for all of them is ‘are they making a difference?’ This could be by breaking new ground as is the case for the missing children’s project but also through making a step change in current practice where ‘team around the family’ approaches are moving from being seen as a funded programme to being the mainstream ethos for service delivery.

Identifying new projects

A balance needs to be struck between focusing on getting the most out of the work we already have underway and keeping the programme fresh by looking at new issues.

In considering new work the team supporting the Delivery Board invests in scoping projects, undertaking rapid evidence assessments to ensure the issues are understood and confirming the resources the projects will need to successfully deliver. The Delivery Board will consider the findings of the support team and endorse projects where it is considered they can make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people and can be disseminated across Wales for others to learn, adapt or adopt the practice for their service.

To find out more, go to wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/pslg/nwp/effectservices or email: [email protected] 

The ESVG programme

The programme aims to Identify, promote and support the development of collaborative approaches to delivery that will provide more effective and efficient services that can improve the life chances of vulnerable people and groups


  • Focus on deep-rooted delivery challenges that have a high cost in both human and financial terms
  • Identify innovative solutions and effective practical actions where there is a proven positive impact on outcomes and budgets
  • Direct and support the implementation of new and proven approaches where appropriate
  • Engage with public service partners to disseminate these effective, high impact, practices and encourage their adoption across Wales
  • Constructively challenge slow or weak adoption where necessary to achieve high and fast impact

Current projects

  • Identifying key, cross public service action to address childhood obesity
  • Encouraging use of integrated pathways of housing support for people with mental health issues
  • Doing more to protect vulnerable children and young adults who repeatedly go missing
  • Integrated approaches to promoting independent living and wellbeing for older people
  • Different ‘team around the family’ approaches in Wales
  • Encouraging improved practices in the way public services respond to and prevent repeat incidents of domestic abuse (10,000 safer lives project)
  • Addressing service delivery challenges around substance misuse (including alcohol) and its relationship with mental health problems
  • Developing programme leadership action on sharing information
  • Common barriers and opportunities emerging from the projects – design and hold further joint shared learning seminars with the Wales Audit Office in the style of ‘Adopting Preventative Approaches’

A project onanti slavery/human trafficking is under consideration while previous projects include citizen directed support and youth engagement.

The Delivery Board

Chair: Jeff Farrar, chief constable, Gwent Police


  • Shaun Kelly, NSPCC
  • Dr Sharon Hopkins, director of public health, Cardiff & Vale Local Health Board
  • Constance Adams, senior policy officer, Wales  Council  for Voluntary Action
  • Iwan Davies, chief executive, Conwy County Borough Council
  • Sue Evans, chief officer social services & housing ,Torfaen County Borough Council
  • Huw Jakeway, chief fire officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
  • Helen Paterson, chief executive, Wrexham County Borough Council
  • Chris Jones, chief fire officer, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
  • Antonia Forte, retired (former housing chief executive)
  • Mark Jeffs, Wales Audit Office

Members, from Welsh Government: Albert Heaney, John Howells, Teresa Holdsworth, Karin Phillips, Sioned Rees.


Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »