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Victims of abuse protest funds being cut to their service provider

ByRebecca Rosser

Feb 2, 2016

The Scottish Government has announced plans to cut spending on the In Care Survivors Service Scotland (ICSSS), a national support service that treats victims of abuse in Scotland.

The initiative to “tender out” the budget for the ICSSS has been met with outrage from abuse survivors. A petition has been brought before the MSPs in Holyrood to stop the government from ending a “life-saving” system that will carry perilous consequences.

The government wishes to alter the current system, replacing it with a “broker service” which will refer abuse victims to the NHS or to social care. The NHS will treat abuse victims as patients on a “time limited” Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach which, according to protestors, will not work.

“A change in service has a potential to harm”, stated the protestors’ petition to MSPs. “The work of the locally based development workers across Scotland is saving lives. It is a lifeline to the service users, some of whom have suicidal ideation and other mental and physical disorders. These are a legacy of the childhood trauma. We survivors and service users believe the current model meets our needs, it is the model survivors trust.”

The success of the ICSSS is in large part due to their collaboration with experts in the field of abuse and with survivors, with whom they work on different cases, ensuring that victims are met with empathetic professionals with a great deal of experience and knowledge. They manage the current and future necessities of those who were abused while ‘in care’ – foster care, adoption, kinship care or residential school, as well as the long term effects that abuse victims suffer.

Halla Price, third year Primary Education student at the University of Edinburgh and daughter of a social worker living in Aberdeen told The Student: “The social work system is already overfilled – they do not have the means or the capacity to take on countless referrals from these new ‘broker services’ meaning that cases will not always be attended to, and social care will not be provided for all those who need it.”

A Government spokesman defended the proposed service changes, telling the BBC: “This investment will enhance and expand the current range of services so survivors are able to access information, resources, support and services which meet their individual needs including psychological, physical, social, education, work and housing. One size does not fit all, which is why we are committed to an outcomes-based approach going forward.”

Price appreciates the goodwill of the statement and admits that one size indeed does not fill all – “if we really wish to make a positive difference in anyone’s life we need to treat them entirely as an individual with concerns and solutions specific to their needs.” However the new system’s disputed capability to deliver and survivors’ lack of trust in the new system is of great importance”, she told The Student.

The Scottish Government is one of the few governments in Europe which commits significant amounts of money to organisations of abuse victims. In May 2015, £13.5 million were signed to a new In Care Survivor Support Service aside from the budgeted quantity to improve the existing service. In September 2015, Rape Crisis Scotland received £1.85 million more than was set initially from the Scottish Government.

However the rates of abuse in Scotland have risen over the past ten years. For example, abuse committed against men has doubled in the past ten years and rates of domestic abuse peaked in 2015, registering 59,882 incidents, one third more than ten years ago and 2 per cent more than last year. Aberdeen, in particular, recorded the highest rate of domestic abuse in Scotland in 2015 according to official figures.

Price commented on these reoccurring issues, and the struggle of survivors to find adequate care, telling The Student: “Again the issue of support capacity comes into play – to treat victims as individuals requires time, effort and a system which they can trust. Removing all of these things and replacing it with a referral system will have disastrously damaging impacts on the security of victims and their trust in receiving care.”

Image credit:  55Laney69

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