By Pamela Currie
GLASGOW — Statistics published by Scottish Women's Aid (SWA), the main organisation providing care and support to women and children fleeing domestic violence, reveal the extent of the crisis in the provision of these vital services. In 1996/97, 4000 women and 6000 children were turned away from refuges which was already full.
Keen for some good publicity, the Labour government recently spent £600,000 on a glossy advertising campaign and £50,000 on a much needed help-line for victims of domestic violence. Following the campaign, the number of women and children seeking help rose by 30%.
But while the calls flooded in, there was little that those answering the phone could offer: the Labour government provided not a penny more for front-line services.
Nearly 20 years ago, local authorities estimated that Scotland needed one refuge place for every 7500 people — 700 places. There are now less than half of that number.
In the same week that the SWA's information were published, government funding was axed from the Glasgow Women's Safety Centre. The centre assisted 400 abused women a year, and would have cost just £85,000 to keep open.