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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Funding plea to save Cumbrian rape charity from closure

A “life-saving” Cumbrian charity for victims of rape and sexual abuse is facing closure within a month if it fails to find fresh funding.

Carol Swainson photo
Carol Swainson

Supporters of Cumbria Rape Crisis, which has supported more than 220 traumatised sex crime victims across the county in the last year, have just 29 days to save the service.

If new sources of funding cannot be found, the 17-year-old charity will have to close on November 15.

The crisis has prompted impassioned pleas for help from some who have benefited from the charity.

They include the mother of a 13-year-old west Cumbrian girl who was left traumatised after being sexually assaulted in the Maryport area. The woman said: “Without this service my daughter might well have ended up killing herself.

“From the word go, they were there for her, and they supported her and the whole family right through the court case and beyond.

“Before being sexually assaulted, my daughter was an outgoing, happy-go-lucky child. After it happened, she tried to hide herself away.

“She’s had brilliant support from Cumbria Rape Crisis.

“My daughter was traumatised by what happened to her: she went through cutting herself, and had suicidal thoughts, but they have helped her to move on. This charity really is a life-saver.”

Another client told how she was referred to Cumbria Rape Crisis by her GP after witnessing one of the Derrick Bird shootings in Whitehaven town centre.

While talking to the doctor, she revealed how she had been haunted by sexual abuse she suffered in childhood, more than 40 years earlier.

The woman said: “I was able to talk about what happened for the first time. I was feeling really down and depressed but they helped me to rebuild myself; to realise that I was better than the man who abused me.”

“It’s dreadful that this charity might close: it helps you realise you’re not the only one in that situation. I rely on this service. We really need this service in Cumbria.”

Cumbria Rape Crisis manager Carol Swainson said the charity needs around £150,000 a year to fund its services, which are provided by 26 volunteers and three paid staff.

The charity’s services also include a helpline for victims and an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA).

Carol said: “Our counsellors see male and female clients, who include people who have suffered recent abuse, and historical abuse. “Being raped or sexually assaulted can have a catastrophic psychological effect on a person, and we see our role as giving them the tools they need to reconstruct their lives and work through it.

“Many become withdrawn, and there can be all sorts of things happen as a result of their trauma: there can be symptoms of post traumatic stress, eating disorders, drug and alcohol issues, and destructive behaviour such as self-harming.”

The charity’s funding has come from a patchwork of sources, the key ones having been the Northern Rock Foundation and the Ministry of Justice, which funded ISVA worker Rebecca Todd.

Her role includes helping victims as they go through the trauma of seeing their abusers prosecuted at court.

Carol added: “We’re applying for funds to various bodies but the money is drying up. We’re” passionate about what we do and we will continue fighting for our future because we know how important Cumbria Rape Crisis is to those we help.”

Over the last year the charity took more than 500 calls on its helpline, and provided 1,500 advocacy sessions, and 1,167 counselling or therapy sessions.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson said: “This is a very important organisation for people who are in very distressing circumstances. I’d be happy to meet them to give any support I can.”

The charity was saved in 2008 by a grant of £108,000 from the Northern Rock Foundation.

The charity can be contacted on 01900 829729.

Have your say

My daughter was raped nearly 12 mths ago and rape crisis have been there from day one, my daughter has had excellent support from Rebecca. This service is very important and the victims get close to there support loseing them could have a detrimental effect on there recover.My daughter read the letter and cried saying "what am i going to do now". I am scare how this will affect her

Posted by L on 21 October 2013 at 11:56

This group should not have to be asking for funding !

They should be getting financial support from the Government - or even be part of the NHS.

Why should they have to go begging ?

Charities like this and the Mountain Rescue Services should not be having to go to the newspapers to plead for the public to give them money.

Posted by Eric on 19 October 2013 at 14:29

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