Thursday, 20 March 2008

£1million emergency funding for Rape Crisis - but what next?

On Tuesday evening, WRC and Rape Crisis (England & Wales) launched a new research report on the state of the Rape Crisis sector. Focusing on the appalling funding situation, the report also looks at staffing, services provided and public awareness of the sector.

The launch event was a beautiful candle-lit evening at the Directory of Social Change in London. The speakers (Tania Pouwhare from WRC, Jane Gregory from Rape Crisis (England & Wales) and a woman who had received life-saving support from Rape Crisis centres) gave hard hitting but inspiring speeches. The event closed with a touching poetry reading by my colleague, Skye.

Almost immediately, Harriet Harman announced that the government was pulling together £1million emergency funding to prevent any further closures of Rape Crisis centres this year. Now, obviously that's not enough and once again fails to address the real issue which is long-term, sustainable funding for these vital services, but it's difficult to be too curmudgeonly - I mean, it's not often you get £1million! And perhaps this really will be the first step in a concerted effort to sort out a plan to ensure that current centres don't have to close and that new centres can be opened in the very many places where there currently aren't any.

On the same day, Vivienne Hayes (WRC Chief Executive) went on the Jeni Barnett show on LBC radio to talk about this issue. Also on the programme was WRC's "gold star man of the week" (see below for last week's recipient of this prestigious award), Ben Davies of Not only has he been incredibly supportive of the campaign for better funding of Rape Crisis centres, he was also very articulate and passionate about it on the radio. He talked specifically about visiting a centre and meeting the staff and volunteers. Cheers Ben!

So a day for warm fuzzies, but definitely not the time to take our eye off the ball. As the report says:

Support for women and girls to rebuild their lives after rape must be a right, not a privilege determined by a postcode lottery.

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