Small Commitment for a Big Society
Philippa Willitts // 21 June 2010
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) has organised a campaign for sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres, as there are areas without services at all, and other areas where the existing services are under threat of closure.
They are therefore asking for reassurance from the Coalition Government that it will keep its sustainable funding commitment to Rape Crisis.
As someone who has used my local Rape Crisis centre, I can only praise how well they support women and girls, and that service no longer existing would be devastating for my city. Statistics for sexual violence are not going down, and we certainly need more specialist, independent women-only services for survivors, not risk there being even fewer.
On their facebook page for this campaign, they have suggestions of things that we can do:
• Join our supporters’ group on Facebook
• Publicise the group and this event page to all your Facebook friends and encourage others to join and do the same
• Send a letter to Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, voicing your support for a specific, long-term, sustainable fund for Rape Crisis groups, so that the crisis in Rape Crisis ends once and for all. You can write your own, or use our template letter to urge David and Theresa to honour their commitment to Rape Crisis (England and Wales). Find the template on our group page
• Ask your MP to support the right of sexual violence victims/survivors in your area to access vital Rape Crisis services. You can find out how to contact your local MP at: www.theyworkforyou.com
• Ask your MP and the Government for parity with the Scottish model of funding for Rape Crisis in England and Wales:
The National Co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland describes the impact of having a Rape Crisis Specific Fund there:
‘Even though some centres are still struggling, the general funding situation has improved significantly over the past four years…Because the funding is restricted to Rape Crisis groups, centres no longer have to compete with one another; this has made a huge difference in terms of the service and support they can offer women. Four new centres have also opened in areas where previously there was little or no service provision. ‘
Along with the numerous verbal public and parliamentary statements promising sustainable funding for Rape Crisis from both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the Coalition Government has told us that it will adopt a ‘common sense’ attitude to addressing the ‘needs of society by enabling funding to deliver innovative and personalised services to the community.’
They have committed to:
Big Words …but when will they become a Big Reality? Support women and girls who’ve been affected by sexual violence to have their voices heard by insisting that the Government honours its commitment.
Don’t forget: Send our template letter to Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, asking that she honours the Coalition Government’s commitment to provide long-term sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres
I will also reproduce the template letter they provide here, for those who don’t use facebook. It is to Theresa May, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.
Please do send it if you agree with the sentiment, and feel free to alter it to add things you feel are important to get across.
Rt. Hon Theresa May MP #Your Address #
2 Marsham Street
Dear Home Secretary,
I am writing to you (or Organisation’s Name is writing to you) to seek your assurance that the Coalition Government will HONOUR its publicly stated COMMITMENT to provide long-term sustainable funding for Rape Crisis centres affiliated to Rape Crisis (England and Wales) (RCEW) by providing a specific Rape Crisis fund.
The new Government has stated, in its Coalition agreement, ‘Our Programme for Government’ (May 2010), and reiterated within parliamentary debates and public interviews, that it will support the sustainability and development of Rape Crisis provision in England and Wales.
This commitment came about as a result of the publicly acknowledged critical situation that member groups of RCEW are experiencing, as highlighted by ‘The Crisis in Rape Crisis’ and other independent reports over the last decade. It was also an outcome of continued and consistent lobbying and campaigning by RCEW and their supporters, who are gravely concerned about the consequences of the historic neglect and lack of funding for Rape Crisis groups, which led to 10 centres closing in the preceding 5 years. The Government’s commitment was a response to these specific issues facing Rape Crisis (England and Wales) member groups.
Independent research and survivors’/victims’ testimonies consistently show that the majority of survivors/victims of sexual violence are women and girls who do not report to the police and prefer to access women-only services. Many of these survivors/victims will, therefore, prefer to access their local Rape Crisis centre as they provide specialist, women-centred services, which are distinctive within the Third Sector.
However, a lack of sustainable funding means that, for the majority of England and Wales, Rape Crisis Centres do not exist in many areas and the ones that do exist are under threat. This reduces women’s and girls’ choices and opportunities in accessing specialised, local support for sexual violence and this does not promote a fair, just and Big Society.
I (or Organisation’s name) urge you to honour the commitment and to work with Rape Crisis (England and Wales) to ensure that all member groups are able to access the promised funding.