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Scottish Government announces significant increase in funding for the Scottish Women's Rights Centre

Scottish Government announces significant increase in funding for the Scottish Women's Rights Centre

The Scottish Government today announced a significant increase in funding for the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre. The news, which was shared at the SNP Conference in Glasgow by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, means that access to legal information and advice for women in Scotland will be greatly increased as the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre expands to meet the needs of women in Dundee and the Highlands.

Advice and support for victims of gender based violence will be expanded after Justice Secretary Michael Matheson confirmed an extra £665,000 over two years.

As a result of this new funding, the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) will significantly increase its legal team to provide direct legal support in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Dundee and the Highlands.

The Centre is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency, with the helpline staffed by volunteers from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic.

The SWRC will employ a new full time advocacy support worker, focusing on the needs of the women who access the service, and the centre’s helpline will increase its hours to ensure that women have more options available to them to seek legal information and advice on any aspect of gender based violence.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr Matheson said:

“The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, which recently celebrated its first year of operation, is an excellent example of how drawing together many specialist groups can offer those who have suffered violence the widest range of advice and support needed.

“Different areas of Scotland have different needs, for example, rural locations can have geographical barriers to accessing otherwise main stream services and this additional £665,000 funding will help us reach more women across Scotland.

“I am also delighted that the centre will be able to recruit a full time specialist advocacy support worker who will be able to provide much needed support to women who may require more than just legal solutions to their circumstances.

“All of the groups involved in the centre play an invaluable role in supporting victims come to terms with the aftermath of horrendous crimes and I am grateful to them for their hard work and continued efforts to strengthen the services for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Scotland.”
Rape Crisis Scotland spokeswoman Sandy Brindley said:

“Today's announcement will mean a significant improvement in the legal advice and protection offered to women across Scotland. There is a clear need for free & specialist legal advice to be provided to women following rape or abuse. This funding will help the Scottish Women's Rights Centre to promote and protect women's human rights.”

Kate Laverty, University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, said:

“The Law Clinic at Strathclyde is delighted to be part of the development of the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre. Women all over Scotland clearly need this service and our students are eager to help.

“Not only are they keen to hone their legal skills but they want to be part of changing things for the better for those experiencing gender based violence. Their involvement at this early stage in their studies helps to spread knowledge and skills in this specialist area of law and will have a huge influence in their future careers in law.”

Kirsty Thomson, Legal Services Agency said:

“The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre is a unique collaboration in the area of women’s rights. In the last 18 months, and with funding from the government administered through the Scottish Legal Aid Board, specialists from within this area have come together to pilot a free specialist legal service for women affected by violence within Scotland.  The demand for this service demonstrated the need to cement and expand the centre’s existence within Scotland. We are therefore delighted with today’s announcement. Through this funding, the Scottish Government is paving the way in protecting the rights of women affected by violence.”

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency.

Funding from the £20m Violence Against Women and Girls Justice Budget will cover costs of running the new surgeries and additional helpline hours, training, awareness raising and mentoring outreach work and the costs of full time solicitors for the Centre, who will be based within Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness.  All advice to women provided is free, referrals may be made to other firms and direct legal representation is taken on in accordance with the SWRC’s criteria.

For further information, please contact Sandy Brindley on 07764167501