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Community / Women’s Aid waiting list open again after review

Outcome of funding bids crucial for future service

SHETLAND Women’s Aid has decided to re-open its waiting list for victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence after closing off the list at the end of last year due to the unmanageable demand on the service.

In a statement issued on International Women’s Day, the organisation said the decision had been made on the understanding that women and children requiring their service would be on the waiting list for a considerable time.

Service manager Laura Stronach said opening up the waiting list would help Shetland Women’s Aid to “catch and record” those who are needing help.

This information could then be used as evidence in any future funding application, she said.

“We are waiting to hear back from the Big Lottery by the end of March and we are working on a bid to the BBC’s Children in Need appeal, and there are others in the pipeline,” she said.

Stronach said closing off the waiting list had always been a temporary measure to take stock and to try finding ways of managing the existing workload better.

Women's Aid Shetland manager Laura Stronach: 'There is an awakening'. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News
Shetland Woman’s Aid manager Laura Stronach. Photo: Shetland News

“Since December, we have been working together to reshape safe, sustainable, specialist support and advocacy for victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence,” she said.

“We have also been in discussion with partner agencies to increase existing funding streams and we await the outcome of various funding applications. The SIC have stated that they are not in a position to provide additional funding at this time.

“We noted that we must continue to be transparent about this with people on the waiting list and other professionals. The waiting list will continue to be monitored carefully with regular contact made to ensure the safety of clients awaiting support.”

She said breaking cycles of domestic abuse and making sustained change was “high intensity work” and could take years in some cases.

“You canna speed things up if you want to make sustained change. It is one thing to put out fires, but what we are trying to do is transform lives, and transform communities.”

Welcoming Sheriff Ian Cruickshank’s recent comments that the court would take a “zero tolerance’ approach to domestic abuse, Stronach said his statement had been key in how other services are reacting to the issue.

Shetland Women’s Aid used International Women’s day to launch its new website which can be found at www.shetlandwa.org

And referring to celebrating International Women’s Day, Stronach added: “We hope for better balance in our community in Shetland when it comes to equality and a recognition that its ok to be different and equal.”

The organisation also hopes to be successful in safeguarding a share of £25,000 that is being made available by the Shetland Community Justice Partnership for a number of local projects.

There are a total of nine organisations bidding for a share of the money (see separate story here). Shetland Women’s Aid is hoping to be able to bring a drama production on domestic abuse and coercive control to Shetland schools.