Rape Crisis calls for sustainable funding for specialist services

21 Aug 2019

Today (21st August), ITV reported that, despite Rape Crisis service provision in England and Wales having risen 9% last year - delivering over 730,000 sessions of specialist support to over 79,000 individuals - more than 6,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, rape and all forms of sexual violence, including 172 children, were on waiting lists for counselling and advocacy at 31st March 2019.

Katie Russell, spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“The specialist sexual violence and abuse support and advocacy services Rape Crisis Centres provide have been historically and chronically under-funded over decades.

In recent years, as public awareness and discussion of sexual violence and abuse have increased, there has been unprecedented need and demand for these services from victims and survivors, which continues to grow.

Central Government funding and resourcing for this vital work has not increased in proportion with need and demand and has left Rape Crisis Centres competing for diminishing local commissioning opportunities and over-subscribed private trusts and foundations.

The only remaining Government fund is held by the Ministry of Justice and this funded just 14% of Rape Crisis Centres’ specialist work last year, while only 9 out of 44 Centres received any local health funding, despite increased referrals from health and mental health services.

The fact that Rape Crisis Centres continue to provide specialist support, counselling and advocacy to more and more victims and survivors every year, despite the constant challenges of sourcing the funds to stay open, is a testament to their dedication and resourcefulness.

The holistic, trauma-informed Rape Crisis approach to service provision means victims and survivors get support via specialist helplines, face-to-face emotional support and group work, even while they are on waiting lists for counselling.

But no Rape Crisis worker ever wants to tell someone who’s taken the difficult step to reach out that they may have to wait months for the service they want and need, or even that the waiting list is closed due to lack of capacity. This situation cannot continue.

Unless specialist sexual violence and abuse services are lifted out of the competitive commissioning system and provided with sustained and sustainable, dedicated funding, they will simply not be able to provide the level of service to meet demand and give the specialist support needed.”