Doubt over TESSA school scheme’s future

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A programme to increase awareness of abuse and exploitation among secondary school pupils on Bute faces an uncertain future after losing its main funding source.

The TESSA scheme, run by Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis, has provided workshops to youngsters in Rothesay Academy for several years.

But its funding from Comic Relief was ended last year – and applications to 10 potential alternative funders have all failed.

The service has been able to continue on a patchwork basis, and efforts to continue it are ongoing, but a report has admitted there is “no further scope” at the moment.

The report, by Nicola Hall of Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis, said: “Both secondary schools have received this support in the last school year but sadly, our Comic Relief funding ceased in September 2018 after six years of funding.

“Despite our best efforts we have been unable to secure funding to be able to continue this service in the current format.

“We applied to 10 different funders all of which were unfortunately unsuccessful.

“We were able to gain small amounts of funding to deliver a very ‘piece-meal’ service to complete the 2018/19 timetable but there is no further scope for this at the moment.

“We whole-heartedly believe a prevention programme is vitally important to our young people and communities.

“It is such an important area of work to raise awareness on and tackle entrenched attitudes and behaviours.

“Early intervention is always key and the spotlight on ACEs [adverse childhood experiences] highlights just how damaging adverse experiences in childhood can be in terms of lasting impact.

“Therefore, we have put a lot of effort into researching and completing funding applications, we have met with many different people and highlighted it with education, NHS, local councillors and MP/MSPs.”

The service gives young people access to a range of support services with a series of workshops on various issues.

Ms Hall added: “It is very difficult for young people to express their experiences and feelings and may never have verbalised their experiences before, so having the confidence to do this in a safe place is vital.”