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Community / Women’s Aid gets positive report from inspectors

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

SHETLAND Women’s Aid has received a glowing report from the Care Inspectorate for providing a “very good standard of care and support to women who had experienced domestic abuse”.

Its housing support service was deemed to be ‘very good’ in categories such as quality of care and quality of staffing.

The team was praised for making clients aware of the range of support which was available, which included practical and emotional support, advice, one to one client-centred counselling, group work and accommodation.

“Women were supported, but not pressured, to make the decisions best for them by staff who understood how difficult these decisions could be,” inspectors noted.

“Where they chose not to be involved with Shetland Women’s Aid staff were knowledgeable about the other agencies and organisations which women could be signposted to for support.”

Shetland Women’s Aid, however, said it still continues to experience a growing waiting list and high numbers being referred for service.

In 2018 the charity was forced to close off its waiting list as it struggled to cope with increased demand, although last year Lottery funding was secured which allowed it the “space and time to manage and implement” a restructure.

In a statement related this week, Shetland Women’s Aid said it is continuing to request more funding from a range of sources.

“We are delighted with the Care Inspectorate report and acknowledge the hard work undertaken by the team over the last year,” it said.

“We are however still struggling with growing waiting lists and until we can tackle the waiting time, we cannot be complacent.

“Shetland Women’s Aid are currently seeking funding for continuation of their IDAA [Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate] service, education, prevention and children and young people’s service beyond June 2020 from the Scottish Government.

“We continue to explore all local options for additional funding to support the service in areas where funding is not available and to address the waiting list for adult support.  We are appealing to the local authority for increased support for the waiting list for the children and young peoples’ service.

“We continue to experience waiting lists and high numbers referring for service, and are this month reviewing the restructure and development of our three-stage trauma recovery model. We wish to thank the community for their continued support and for all efforts made to raise funds for our service.”

The service, meanwhile, has also responded to comment from Highlands and Islands list MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston over stats which revealed 120 domestic abuse incidents were recorded by police in Shetland in 2018/19.

He said the rise in this number “should be a matter of concern across Shetland, and we need to better understand why there has not been more success in reducing the number of incidents”.

Shetland Women’s Aid said it believes the figure “confirms what we have been saying for years that domestic abuse and other gender-based violence is underreported and continues to be”.

The charity added that “these figures would suggest that victims are recognising their abuse and have increased confidence to share that in reporting domestic abuse crimes to police”.

It said that “root cause of domestic abuse is women’s inequality and until that is properly recognised, we will not be able to make change”.