Friday, 5 December 2014

Fears over the future of Women's Aid services

Concerns are being expressed that vital services delivered by North Ayrshire Women’s Aid could be diminished if the organisation’s funding is reduced.

It emerged this week that the local Women’s Aid group, which has its office in Saltcoats, will have to submit a tender and compete for funding.  As previously revealed by the3towns.today, North Ayrshire has the highest rate of domestic violence in Scotland.

As a result of the development, Lesley Rodgers, a Personal Development Coach who supports the work of North Ayrshire Women’s Aid, has made an impassioned plea to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  In a letter, copied to local politicians Margaret Burgess MSP, Kenneth Gibson MSP and Katy Clark MP, Ms Rodgers says, “I appeal to you both as a woman and in your political capacity as First Minister of Scotland to save the vital services of North Ayrshire Women’s Aid – the largest of its kind in Scotland, employing over 30 staff.

“These services have been put up for tender – but with only a quarter of the staff who are presently employed.  This means that support services for children, refuge and outreach workers are at risk.  This also places more women and children at risk of domestic abuse.  As a survivor of domestic violence and mother of two young children who found their voices through the children’s worker at North Ayrshire Women’s Aid, I find this completely unacceptable.”

Ms Rodger’s letter continues, “I’m sure you’ll be aware of the statistics: 1 in 5 women will experience domestic abuse; 100,000 children and young people in Scotland are currently living with domestic abuse; over the last three years, North Ayrshire Women’s Aid received 36,900 requests for information and support, and 524 requests for refuge.

“North Ayrshire is often overlooked but has areas of social deprivation, the lowest survival rate after retirement and has few prospects of major change in the near future.

“We can only expect a worsening situation and further deterioration, as the stress of new austerity measures kick-in.

“One of my big concerns is that if the largest of these services is decimated, others will follow.  A petition has been initiated and will be online fairly soon to encourage local support to save our services.  Please stand with us and ensure no loss of employment or services which protect women and assist children in North Ayrshire.”

Local Councils have seen severe reductions to funding, which impacts on the money that can be made available to provide services directly and through partner agencies, such as Women’s Aid.

The SNP Scottish Government, which provides 80% of funding to councils, has itself seen its finances slashed by billions-of-pounds by the Tory-Lib Dem UK Government.

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