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2016 National Women's Conference
13 October 2015

Conference notes with growing concern the funding crisis within services that support women who have experienced rape and sexual violence.

In August 2015 it was reported that nationally none of the 46 Rape crisis organisations in England and Wales had secure funding beyond March 2016 despite a 50% increase in the number of survivors receiving ongoing support which had grown to 50,000 a year with calls to helplines soaring to 164,000 equating to an average of 3,000 calls a week.

There is a massive increase in demand for services and with the Goddard enquiry which will look into historical cases of childhood sexual abuse, this is something we expect to see increase in the coming years.

In October 2015, The Big Lottery Women and girls fund, able to sustain organisations for between 3 and five years was oversubscribed to the tune of £238 million as against the £35 million distribution sum, demonstrating the high level of need for such service provision. And despite clear evidence of increasing need to support existing survivors and new, both of the Greater Manchester services were denied funding.

This has done nothing to improve the figure of 1,600 people on the waiting lists of 17 charities with up to 10,000 survivors waiting for more than a year to be counselled across the 135 specialist services facts which were mentioned in the Guardian recently.

It is of police record that there has been a rise in child sexual abuse incidents from 66,120 in 2012 to a projected 113,291 cases in 2015, demonstrating a potential 71% increase, over the last three years with non recent cases rising by 165%.

In 2014 Ministry of Justice ‘Victims funding’ was transferred to Independent Police Crime Commissioner (office) , since that decision there has been less funding to services which support women across the board. Rape Crisis England and Wales in responding to the growing concern of funding for specialist services state that their member organisations are seeing “unprecedented levels of demand for their specialist services”.

It is vital that the full range of support services to women and girls who have been raped and sexually abused are fully considered a sentiment felt not only by UNISON women’s committees , pressure groups and survivors but also many Charity leaders including Gabrielle Shaw, the Chief Executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), urging the government to commit more funding to the struggling charities, warning that services will close and victims will suffer if they do not receive urgent help.

Historically there has been reluctance for women to report rape and sexual attacks and convictions are proportionately low. The consequence of failure to fund support services adequately would impact severely on those already reticent to come forward to ensure perpetrators are punished accordingly. Pernicious austerity measures that are causing reductions in funding to vital services should not be allowed to endanger women further.

UNISON has a strong track record of support to Rape crisis Centres,

Conference therefore asks that the National Women’s committee works with all relevant sections within UNISON including Labour Link to

1)Encourage regional and branch women’s groups to Raise awareness of the funding crisis that Rape crisis centres are facing

2)Campaign for central Government funding for Rape crisis specialist services – as set out in the Conservative Manifesto

3)Identify their local Rape Crisis service and consider forging links to better support them in their fight for funding

4)Report back to National Women’s conference in 2017 with progress and success