More funding needed to support abuse victims

MP John Healey has urged the Government to give more funding to help Rotherham victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

He is supporting calls by abuse victim Jessica – not her real name – who last week wrote to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling asking for additional funding for counselling so young people like her can get help to rebuild their lives.

Jessica was sexually abused and beaten from 13 but has never received counselling.

Jessica told Mr Grayling she wanted to raise awareness of survivors, and stop such abuse from happening again.

She said: “I believe if I’d had the correct support and counselling when I was a child, it would have helped me and my son have more of a stable and structured life.

“I am currently on the waiting list to receive counselling, so I am writing to you to ask you to put more funding into the help and support of abuse victims and help them to build a future.

“Stopping sexual abuse of children should be a top priority and can only happen if the correct funding and agencies are in place.”

Jessica has also launched an online petition which 128 people have signed.

Mr Healey has written to Mr Grayling giving his backing to Jessica’s campaign and saying she had shown “extraordinary bravery” by publicly writing to tell him the difference counselling would make to her and young people like her.

His letter said child sexual exploitation cases were complex and time-consuming, with victims needing sustained support and safeguarding over an extended period.

Mr Healey said Alexis Jay’s report had drawn attention to the increased financial pressures facing Rotherham Council because of the “dramatic reduction” in Government funding. By 2016 Rotherham will have lost 33 per cent of its spending power compared to 2010/11 – well above the average reduction for England of 20 per cent.

He added: “The council has been able to switch funding priorities and immediately raise £120,000 for victims’ counselling services. But more is needed, as Alexis Jay pointed out in her report.

“Like Jessica, I am looking to the Ministry of Justice to make a contribution to ensure long term and immediate counselling and support is available to victims and survivors of abuse.”

The MP also submitted Parliamentary Questions last week, asking the Home Secretary about the steps she is taking to ensure victims of child sexual abuse have access to support and counselling, and when she will publish the terms of reference and membership of the panel into the overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse.

• Read Mr Healey’s letter in full here.