Open letter from Women's Aid to Scottish party leaders

(1 Post)
ArabellaScott Wed 28-Apr-21 18:58:50

- Scotland. I would put this on the petitions board, only ... I can't actually find it anywhere. Where does it live?!

Dear Party Leaders in Scotland,

We, the Scottish public, believe that the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election offers you an important opportunity to strengthen and shape the kind of Scotland we all want to have – one where everyone is safe and free to explore all of their ambitions and aspirations. A Scotland where everybody’s human rights are upheld and protected and domestic abuse survivors access the support they need, when and where they need it.

Scotland needs a new model of funding for domestic abuse services that is focused on the lives and rights of women, children and young people. Under international human rights law, the government has an obligation to provide reparations, including legal, social and health services to survivors of gender-based violence. We want to see those obligations met.

In Scotland, we’ve made great progress in tackling violence against women and girls in recent years, and we celebrate those achievements and the commitment from across the political spectrum that has led to them. However, we're still living in a country where one in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, a Scotland where one in five children are experiencing domestic abuse, a nation where domestic abuse is the leading cause of women’s homelessness.

Women’s Aid services provide specialist domestic abuse support to thousands of women, children and young people across Scotland every year. Staffed by dedicated, skilled, expert women, the value of their services is clear- they provide life-changing, life-saving emotional support, advocacy and access to emergency refuge accommodation. Our services are also being asked to deliver training and system change at a local level to shift attitudes, strengthen practice and highlight systemic and structural inequality that lies at the root of violence against children and women.

It is in this context that, everyday, Women’s Aid services have to make gruellingly difficult decisions about how to use the too scarce resources they have to meet rising demand for their services.

In the period April 2019 - March 2020, 65% of Women’s Aid services saw demand for women’s support services increase. In that same period, 81% of services saw real term cuts to their funding from local authorities, 36% had the same or less money in their overall budgets than the year before, and 39% had to use their emergency financial reserves to maintain essential services.

The evidence is clear - relying on a patchwork of funding destabilises and demoralises these critical services. Scotland’s domestic abuse survivors need stable, sustainable core funding that eliminates the post code lottery for services. Minimum funding for core services needs to be protected in law, to shield services both from local cuts and from political winds of change.

Change at the margins in the form of short-term fixes at national or local levels is not going to be enough. Real, lasting change requires bold vision, and we’re asking that from each of you. Please lead from the front by committing in your 2021 Election Manifestos to a new model of adequate, stable and sustainable funding for specialist domestic abuse services. Your championing of our vision of Scotland that is better and safer for women, children and young people will make 2021 a turning point in our joint efforts to end domestic abuse.

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