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Local branches welcome extra money for charities supporting victims of domestic abuse and violence

NEWS of extra funding being provided to Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland during the coronavirus crisis has been welcomed locally.

The Scottish Government is giving an additional £1.5 million to the two charities to support the safety and wellbeing of women and children who are at risk of experiencing violence during the ‘lockdown’ period and times of self-isolation.

Scottish Women’s Aid will receive £1.35 million over six months and Rape Crisis Scotland will receive £226,309 over six months.

Shetland Rape Crisis service manager Lisa Ward.

Both charities have local offices which continue to be busy and in demand.

Shetland Rape Crisis service manager Lisa Ward confirmed that extra funding would definitely be heading north to the local office.

The money will be used to enable staff to work more efficiently from home.

“Early last week we outlined our projected needs to the Scottish Government via Rape Crisis Scotland, and we are very grateful that they have recognised this need and responded promptly to help us continue delivering free information, advocacy and support to survivors of sexual violence in Shetland,” Ward said.

“This funding will enable us to deliver our service in a way that is accessible, safe, secure and confidential, despite being delivered remotely and from workers’ homes, which can be quite challenging in this line of work.

“This money will go towards essentials in the coming months such as upgrades to secure GDPR-compliant video conferencing software, appropriate and secure infrastructure for home-working such as laptops, phones, headsets, printers, scanners, etc and secure storage for confidential files being temporarily kept in home offices.

“We will also be upping some staff hours over the next six months in order to meet a projected increase in demand for the service.

“We are expecting an increase in demand for a number of reasons, and we are glad the government recognises this. We’ve put more information on our website for those stuck in difficult situations while social distancing and we will be sharing resources on our social media across the coming months too.”

Shetland Rape Crisis can be contacted on 01595 747 174 between 9am and 1.30pm Mondays to Thursdays, and they can be emailed on contact@shetlandrapecrisis.scot.

The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open from 6pm to midnight on 08088 010302.

Shetland Women’s Aid manager Laura Stronach.

Shetland Women’s Aid manager Laura Stronach, meanwhile, also welcomed the news.

“This is a great response by the Scottish Government to what we are directly seeing within our service as a result of the lockdown and self-isolation in relation to Covid-19,” she said.

Shetland Women’s Aid is encouraging anyone who feels unsafe in their own home to get in touch by via telephone on 01595 692070 or though email office@shetlandwa.org.

They can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter, although in an emergency people can dial 999.

It also encourages the use of the domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline on 0800 027 1234 or helpline@sdafmh.org.uk.

Speaking about the extra funding, Scottish justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We want women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the home to know that although they may feel isolated and vulnerable during these unprecedented times, they are not alone.

“Anyone experiencing violence, including coercive and controlling behaviours, should not feel in any way inhibited by the current coronavirus outbreak to report a crime against them.

“These are enormously difficult times, but the safety of women and child victims who experience  abuse in the home is paramount – the message to stay at home does not mean that they should not seek urgent help, advice or support.”