The Scottish Government has announced £5 million to help groups working to support women and girls who have suffered gender-based violence deal with the increased demand they have seen for services during the pandemic.
The bulk of the funding, which was announced by equalities minister Christina McKelvie, will go to Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland.
The two organisations will share £4.5 million to help with the “vital” work that they do, Ms McKelvie said.
The remaining £500,000 will be split between 12 specialist groups offering support services.
Announcing details of the cash support, the minister stressed that “violence against women and girls is one of the most devastating and fundamental violations of human rights and is totally unacceptable”.
She added: “We recognise the vital work that local women’s aid and rape crisis centres do day in, day out to support women and girls, including throughout the pandemic, and I know demand for these services has increased.
“This in itself is appalling and I am determined to support rape crisis centres and domestic abuse services, which provide a lifeline for many women and girls.”
Ms McKelvie continued: “As the need for these services has grown in this most difficult of times, this funding will help survivors, and those at risk, to access specialist support when they need it most.
“We will continue to encourage survivors to report their experience and seek support they need.”
Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said they have experienced a “huge increase in demand for support from survivors of domestic abuse”, adding that the “impact from this is already being felt as our waiting lists are growing”.
“This funding from the Scottish Government will help us manage this higher demand and reduce these waiting lists, allowing more accessible support for survivors,” she said.
“For us, this is an opportunity to bridge funding between coronavirus emergency funding and a new funding system based on need, rather than historical arrangements.”
Rape Crisis Scotland chief executive Sandy Brindley said: “Seeking support after sexual violence can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, and it’s so important that, when people do feel able to reach out, specialist services are resourced to be able to provide the support that is often described to us by survivors as life-saving.
“This funding – in conjunction with the new Delivering Equally Safe fund – is a very welcome and much-needed investment in local rape crisis services, but our approach must be sustainable.
“It is only through a strategic and co-ordinated approach that we will be able to make sure that survivors across Scotland are able to access the support they deserve, at the point of need.”