Last week we had to make the heart-breaking decision to close the waiting list to the counselling service due to a severe lack of funding. We have been overwhelmed with the support and solidarity that you have shown, we understand that many people feel as passionately as we do about this. We wanted to give a bit more information and hopefully some ways you can help us.
The current waiting list has been growing substantially over the last few years and this has been exacerbated by Covid 19 restrictions. Although we have explored funding opportunities and made numerous applications for funding, we have not secured enough funding to support all of the clients that request to use our service. Adding additional clients onto our waiting list extends the time that each client is on the list, and we have reached the point where this waiting time is now at an unacceptable and unethical level.
Because of this we had to make the decision to close it until secure, sustainable funding is made available. To put this into context, and in the interests of transparency, to provide the level of meaningful support that we feel is necessary to the number of victims and survivors that are referred to us each year, the counselling service overall costs £924,000 annually. To clear the current waiting list which stands, on average, around 18 months for adults, will cost an additional £609,000.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has pledged an additional £100,000 and partners at Herefordshire Council have pledged £120,000 to help with the immediate crisis. We remain hopeful that they, along with other local councils and agencies, will recognise the need for long term sustainable funding for survivors for future years – without this commitment, we are concerned that we will be in the same situation this time next year.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Findings in every recent (and historic) government commissioned report and review conclude, in one way or another, that all victims and survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence should have access to specialist support. Despite this, sexual violence STILL does not form any part of any strategic governmental policy or document, other than with specific reference to child sexual exploitation. Please join us in lobbying local MPs, councils, health and government to change this. We have drafted a template letter that you can use as a basis for your letter, this can be downloaded here: Letter to MP template. Please note that letters that are simply copied and pasted don’t tend to get through, so please make sure to personalise yours as much as possible. Please visit https://www.writetothem.com/?a=westminstermp&pc= to send your email to your local councillor and /or MP. If you can’t find details for your local councillor please visit https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-councillors where you will be able to get to your local council site and see all the relevant contact details you’ll need to send a letter or email.
We understand that the amount we need to resolve this far exceeds individual giving, however, as many of you have asked for ways to give, if you would like to donate towards the cost of this, please click on the link: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1000782&stop_mobi=yes
A petition to demand for statutory funding of sexual violence support services already exists on Change.org, please click on the link to sign: https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-survivors-of-sexual-violence-are-being-denied-support-tell-theresa-may-this-must-end-now-62f47463-2ee5-4960-a818-0d0a17894134