Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis has hit out at the Scottish Government after it was one of only three of Scotland’s rape crisis centres to miss out on a £1.5 million funding boost.
Centres in the Western Isles and Orkney also missed out on the funding, which was given to 14 rape crisis centres across the country.
Elizabeth Thomson, manager, Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis, attacked the Scottish Government’s remit for providing the funding.
She said: “The rational was based solely on waiting lists. We do not have a waiting list as we have been unable to get funding for a worker in Helensburgh and the islands so we provide no service – hence no service no waiting list!
“We have raised money ourselves from Volant Trust to provide a 12 hour worker in Cowal (finishes Dec 2019); Robertson Trust 14 hours Campbeltown (but dependent of match funding) and recently Bute Family Trust – six hours Bute (for six months).
“Our workers do unpaid hours to see survivors.
“We have had an increase in clients of 20 per cent in the last year. Sexual crimes increased by 13 per cent in Scotland. In Argyll and Bute, according to the latest figures from Police Scotland, there has been a year on year increase of 38 per cent.
“We have managed with no additional funding from Scottish Government and yet because we have managed the situation we are penalised.”
Elizabeth listed the reasons she feels the funding remit is unfair. She said: “Waiting lists were not a fair indicator for many reasons – rural rape crisis centres have different challenges – a lot of our work goes on development to enable survivors to a come forward by challenging rural attitudes and by providing local support – hence more premises costs, staff travel etc.
“In addition survivors in rural communities have many obstacles to surmount before they come forward, for example everyone knows everyone so there is a lack of anonymity, the perpetrator can be well known and liked or related to someone in the village, they can become the focus of local gossip, attitudes may be outdated. These can all contribute to feelings of low confidence, self-esteem and anxiety, and development is critical to overcome this but that takes time and resources.
“We feel that Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis have been unfairly treated and the indicator that was used by the Scottish Government actively discriminates against us gaining additional funding.
“It does not take into account that we have no worker in Helensburgh or any of the Islands – so no service no waiting list, the amount of development work that needs to be undertaken in a rural community for survivors to come forward and the funding that we have raised ourselves and which is coming to an end.
“In addition it is now contributing to us being unable to get funding from other funders as there is a perception we now have funding.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It’s important everyone who has experienced sexual assault can access support in a timely manner, and our priority is to reduce the unacceptable waiting times some survivors are experiencing. That’s why the our funding, £1.5 million over next three years to 14 rape crisis centres, is being prioritised to areas that have the longest waiting times.
“We do, however ,recognise the challenges rural services like Argyll and Bute face and will continue to engage with Rape Crisis Scotland on how we can support these services.”