Many jobs could be lost in the process
Rape Crisis Scotland, the body representing 17 member centres across Scotland, has warned that government funding for some of its life-saving services will run out next March and 28 jobs could be lost.
Looming cuts mean there are fears for the charity’s operations across the country after the Scottish Government granted temporary funds to tackle waiting lists across Scotland in 2021.
That agreement is due to expire in March next year with 28 jobs at risk.
Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “We hear again and again from survivors just how valuable support services were to them when they needed them. It’s essential that when survivors do reach out for support, that support is available to them.
“When Rape Crisis services aren’t able to offer immediate support, this can have a knock-on effect on NHS and other public services.
“We hear a lot of welcome words from politicians and decision makers about how valuable our services are.
“We need to see those words being matched with meaningful, long-term funding so that staff and survivors can be assured that we can continue to deliver these services for years to come.”
The Compass Centre in Shetland, has seen the number of Shetlanders accessing specialist support at the Centre increasing by over 90% since it opened in 2016.
Manager, Lisa Ward, said: “Real cultural change has begun in the Isles, with grass-roots campaigns telling the stories of Shetlanders who have experienced sexual harm and violence in our communities.
“A loss of funding for Rape Crisis services across Scotland will have real and devastating effects for survivors, and particularly for those who are the most marginalised.
“The value of a space that enables the often-unheard stories of survivors to be voiced and understood; that provides quality-assured professional services that prioritise safety and empowerment; and that is at the core of multi-agency efforts to tackle sexual violence in our communities, cannot be overstated.”
The Fife Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre had an eight month waiting list until it received additional money from the Scottish Government,
“On many occasions, by the time we contacted survivors to offer an appointment, we had lost them – not because they had recovered from their traumatic experience but to other coping strategies like drugs, alcohol,” she said.
“Sometimes their mental health had deteriorated, some had been hospitalised and, on some occasions, some survivors had died by suicide.
“Accident and emergency, GPs, police, and social work services end up having to make interventions that could have been prevented.
“People can’t wait eight months for help and support. This does not only have an impact on the survivors directly but on their partners, children, employers, friends and family, and on our whole community.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said it was investing record amounts of funding into support for women and girls: “This includes more than £3 million to Rape Crisis Scotland from the £19m annual funding we provide to support 121 projects aimed at preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, focusing on early intervention, prevention, and support services.
“We also continue to focus on our Equally Safe strategy, jointly owned with COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities), aimed at preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, focused on early intervention, prevention and support services.”