28 jobs are at risk
Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) is facing job losses after it had its funding slashed.
Last year the charity was awarded £1.1 million which paid for extra staff and allowed the organisation to respond to an increase in demand from victims.
However the Scottish Government cash won’t be continued and the shortfall threatens 28 jobs, according to the organisation.
It said: “In the current climate, these losses would be catastrophic, leading to service instability, strain on infrastructure and make retaining skilled staff incredibly challenging.”
It estimates it needs £1.7m to safeguard its services after the pandemic had led to a surge in demand for their services.
In many regions in Scotland, RCS has seen demand for its services soar. Rape Crisis Grampian has seen demand almost double, with 408 survivors accessing the service in 2022 compared with 276 in the previous year with a 200% increase in referrals to Moray Rape Crisis in 2021-22.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “It’s disgraceful that RCS centres are being put at risk because the Scottish Government is failing to fund them properly.”
She added: “Rape crisis support workers are being left on precarious contracts, and it’s heartbreaking to think almost 30 staff could lose their jobs.
“SNP ministers can’t keep paying lip service to survivors. They must renew the funding and address these concerns when they publish the Scottish Government’s draft Budget.”
Rape Crisis Scotland chief executive Sandy Brindley said: “The support that rape crisis centres offer is truly life-saving. It is heart-breaking that a lack of resources means that some survivors are unable to access support when they need it.
“Extending the waiting list funding is critical for rape crisis services to be able to function.
“But rape crisis centres also need more sustainable long term funding. Without reliable funding, highly skilled and trained rape crisis support workers are left on precarious contracts. Unstable funding risks rape crisis services losing highly trained staff.
“We understand there are many pressures on public funding right now. But funding must be delivered for essential services, which rape crisis services are, to be able to offer people across Scotland crucial support.
“Survivors must feel able to contact their local rape crisis centre if they’re in need of support. We’d urge any survivor who is thinking about reaching out to do so.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our Delivering Equally Safe fund is providing £19m per year to support 121 projects from 112 organisations across the length and breadth of Scotland that focus on early intervention, prevention, and support for victims, including the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline and Rape Crisis Centres throughout Scotland.”
It comes as JK Rowling launched a new women-only support service for victims of sexual violence.
The author said Beira's Place will provide free support and advocacy for women in Edinburgh who have experienced abuse at any time in their lives.
She said the service would meet an "unmet need" in response to demands from female survivors of abuse.
Rowling said it was important that survivors had the option of women-centred and women-delivered care.
The Harry Potter creator has held a longstanding interest in women's and children's issues and has been a vocal critic of the Scottish government's reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Other critics of the reform are among those on the board of directors for Beira's Place.