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IRISi team wins Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Award 2017

From left to right: Dr Alison Gregory, Medina Johnson (CEO, IRISi), Professor Gene Feder, Lucy Downes (National Implementation Manager, IRISi) and Carol Metters (CEO, NextLink) Jon Rowley

28 November 2017

Professor Gene Feder, Medina Johnson and colleagues in the IRISi team – (IRIS – Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) were the ‘Policy and Practice’ category winners in this year’s University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Awards, for work to improve the primary healthcare response to domestic violence and abuse.

IRIS is a programme of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training and support for general practice teams, helping them recognise patients with experience of DVA and giving them a direct referral route into specialist DVA services.

IRIS started out as a research project, led by Professor Gene Feder, and has now been commissioned in over 30 areas in England and Wales. Over 800 general practices have engaged in IRIS training and more than 8,000 women have been referred to their IRIS advocate-educator, improving their safety, quality of life, and mental health. Additionally, thousands of women have been offered signposting and information by general practitioners and practice nurses to enable them to take up support when the time is right for them.

Commenting on the IRIS training, one clinician said: “Best, most informative and inspirational training I have been on in 30 years. Fantastic service, gives me hope for humanity, you’re doing an amazing job.”

The awards were presented at an Enterprise Reception to honour each of the VCI Category champions, announced by Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah and presented by Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Hugh Brady.

Professor Gene Feder, said: “I was delighted to accept this award on behalf of the IRISi team, our newly-formed social enterprise, which will further amplify the impact of IRIS in the UK and internationally. I am grateful for the unstinting support of the university's commercialisation team, who helped us establish IRISi in a way that will enable us to expand our activity, reaching ever more DVA victims in a growing number of healthcare settings.

Medina Johnson, CEO of IRISi, said: “We are grateful for this recognition of our work. As we establish our social enterprise, IRISi, to improve and promote the healthcare response to DVA, this award helps us to widen our reach and will, we hope, convince other areas to commission the project, meaning that more women and children will have access to support via their primary healthcare provider.”

Further information

For more information about IRISi, see and on Twitter, follow @irisintervent.

Related news

'Best practice' domestic violence referral programme (IRIS) announces ambitious plans to expand

Category winners to be honoured in Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Awards

About IRISi

IRISi is a social enterprise established to promote and improve the health care response to gender based violence. IRISi:

  • supports the local commissioning, implementation, maintenance and growth of the IRIS programme, including bid development, training for trainers, ongoing support, national analysis and monitoring
  • collaborates with partners to develop innovative, evidence-based health interventions for those affected by gender based violence
  • provides expert advice and consultancy in the field of DVA and health


About the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

Domestic violence facts

Domestic violence and abuse is defined by the UK government as ‘any incident or pattern of incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality’.

Globally, direct experience of being subjected to domestic violence is greater among women then among men. In the UK, 27 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men have experienced some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime; 44% of female murder victims compared to 6% of male victims are killed by a partner or an ex-partner (Home Office, 2015). Intimate partner violence is responsible for more ill-health and premature death in women under the age of 45 than any other well-known risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking (VicHealth, 2004).

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