MPs back bids for CSE funding

BIDS for Government funding to help child abuse survivors in Rotherham have received widespread support.

The Government has made nearly £5m available for organisations who have seen a recent surge in work.

Rotherham Women’s Counselling Service are bidding for nearly £160,000 to offer additional counselling sessions and fund larger premises.

A combined bid led by Voluntary Action Rotherham from voluntary organisations jointly named the Children, Young People and Families Consortia has applied for nearly £500,000.

The bids are backed by Rotherham’s three MPs and Rotherham Council.

The fund was announced by the Home Secretary just before Christmas, but only opened for applications in early February.

John Healey MP pressed ministers to provide details of the fund, open it to applications and encouraged groups from Rotherham to apply.

He said: “The groups have not had long to put their bids together but make a strong case that more help is needed for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation in Rotherham.

“I’ve been told by Government officials that they recognise the special problems we’re dealing with and would encourage bids from Rotherham.

“So I am sure these applications will be considered carefully and I am hopeful that this much-needed money will come to Rotherham.”

A joint letter of support from John Healey, Sarah Champion MP and Kevin Barron MP says organisations in Rotherham have seen a significant increase in demand for their services since Alexis Jay’s report in August.

The MPs say in their letter: “Despite some additional, short-term funding from Rotherham Council it is clear there is not enough provision.

“Current services are stretched and have waiting lists of several months. Given the courage it takes for victims and survivors to seek help in the first place, this is unacceptable.

“Regrettably, proper support has not been there in previous years and this past failure cannot be repeated. It is paramount that victims and survivors are listened to and get the help they need.

“The voluntary sector plays a crucial role in supporting survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly in Rotherham, where trust in statutory agencies is low.

“Rotherham’s voluntary groups have a proven record of providing effective and valued support – but now demand is unprecedented, and they need to be able to do much more.”

Rotherham Council has also sent a letter of cross-party support for the consortium bid.

The letter from Cllr Emma Hoddinott, Cllr Caven Vines and Cllr Christopher Middleton says the fund is “welcome and timely” and that the bid is informed by victims and survivors.

It says: “The fact that many of our key organisations are working together in this bid is a testament to the dedication of those working to address the issue and, as representatives across the political divide, we want to recognise that and fully support this bid.

“We hope you will give full consideration to this ground-breaking achievement of all partners to come together, recognise the support that is much-needed for victims and survivors in Rotherham, and fully fund this proposal.”

The deadline for applications was 2 March. The victims’ fund will be administered by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, supported by the Home Office. Decisions are expected by the end of March.