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Rape Crisis reprieve leaves 'serious questions' over tottering support services

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a reprieve for a threatened rape crisis centre — but warn tonight there are “serious questions” to answer over women’s support services “stretched to breaking point.”

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis had previously announced it would have to close its nine-month waiting list to new applicants, after BBC Children in Need withdrew funding from the project.

Centre Manager Isabelle Kerr said the grants body had outlined in a phone call that funding was withdrawn because the centre did “not do enough for male survivors.”

BBC Children in Need said the decision was “in no way connected to the support of male victims.”

After outrage grew across Scottish politics and civic society yesterday the Scottish government said it would provide £35,000 of additional funding to plug the short-term gap.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “We will continue to engage with Rape Crisis Scotland to assess this situation and to take a long term approach so that local rape crisis centres can continue to provide vital services not just in Glasgow, but across the country.”

Scottish Labour frontbencher Elaine Smith welcomed the decision, but argued: “Children in Need have serious questions to answer on this. The fact the service runs a nine-month waiting list makes clear that demand for the service was already stretched to breaking point.”

Scottish Young Labour women’s officer Morgan Horn said the alleged reason for the initial de-funding was “absurd,” telling the Star: “The services provided by Glasgow Rape Crisis are nothing short of life-saving.

“Women are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer sexual assault and rape at the hands of male perpetrators, and so it is vital that they have access to well-funded, single-sex services.”

Ms Kerr said applications from rape survivors more than doubled over the last five years and staff sickness had increased amid rising workload.

SNP Westminster equalities spokeswoman Angela Crawley had written to BBC Children in Need chief executive Simon Antrobus to highlight “the vital support work” of the centre, calling on the charity to reinstate the funding.

“The centre provides free and confidential support to women and girls who have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused, no matter when this has happened in their lives,” she said.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “This debacle over the BBC’s Children in Need withdrawing funds has exposed the chronic under-funding of rape survivor support services and questions must be asked about the criteria they use to distribute generous public donations.

“More to the point, Glasgow MSP and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon talks a lot about gender equality but what good is that doing for the survivors of rape who have spent nine months on a waiting list to access support?”

Ms Lennon said rape survivors should be “guaranteed support as and when they need it,” calling for the Scottish government to “urgently review the funding of support services for those who have experienced gender-based violence.”

Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis is still seeking funding to secure its long-term future. A public crowdfunder had raised more than £10,500 when the Star went to press last night.

In a statement, BBC Children in Need said: “Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis’s three-year grant recently came to the end of its term, and their subsequent application for new funding was unsuccessful.

“This decision was in no way connected to the support of male victims, we award grants to charities regardless of gender.

“Although the public are extremely generous in their support each year, we simply don’t have the money to fund all of the projects that apply to us for grants and we have to make some really difficult decisions.”

Conrad Landin is Morning Star Scotland editor.

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