Funding snub for Argyll and islands rape crisis work

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Rape survivors in Argyll and on the islands have missed out on government aid to get support more quickly.

Crisis centres in Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles have not been awarded a share of £1.5 million funding from the Scottish Government.

The snub has angered workers who say their centres have been ‘unfairly treated’ because the fund-giving rationale was solely based on waiting lists.

‘If we don’t already have funding to put workers on the islands, survivors won’t come forward so there’s no waiting list,’ said Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis manager Elizabeth Thompson.

Minister for Older People and Equalities Christina McKelvie announced the funding in October but Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis was one of just three centres across the country to be missed out, with the others being the Western Isles and Orkney.

Ms Thomson warned that funding raised by the Argyll and Bute centre,which has an office in Oban supporting male and female survivors in island communities, was now coming to an end.

She is worried that other funding sources might  be put off from giving them money because they will be under the perception that the centre now has government funding when it could not be any further away from the truth, said Ms Thompson.

Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis had an increase in clients of 20 per cent in the past year and, according to Police Scotland, sexual crimes in the area have  increased by 38 per cent year on year.

‘If you don’t have development workers out on the islands doing awareness raising, showing face, building trust, then survivors don’t come forward. If they don’t come forward, there’s no waiting list.

‘Oban has a couple of workers but there’s no one on Mull, Tiree or Islay. The Oban office does its best but most of its support is on Skype or on the phone. If you don’t have money to put workers in those communities, you just don’t have a waiting list so that’s why we feel so angry.

‘This is very wrong. The Oban girls work over their hours to see survivors. We still desperately need funding to get workers on to the islands,’ said Ms Thompson.

‘We have managed with no additional funding from Scottish Government and yet because we have managed the situation, we are penalised.

‘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 and staff travel.

‘Rural communities have many obstacles to surmount before they come
forward. 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,’ she added.

The recording of sexual crime is at the highest level seen since 1971.