Historical abuse counselling wait ‘up to three years’. Victims of historical sexual abuse are having to wait up to three years for counselling, a charity has claimed. It follows a rise of more than 50% in the number of people contacting three of the four Welsh police forces with such complaints over two years. The Survivors Trust – which represents support groups – warned victims could give up trying to find help. The Welsh government said it had given extra funding to relevant charities and would consider giving more. In 2011 the South Wales, North Wales and Gwent forces were contacted by 515 people making complaints of historical sexual abuse, rising to 794 in 2013. Dyfed-Powys Police was unable to provide data.The Survivors Trust, an umbrella group for abuse support groups, said publicity over high profile cases and offenders such as Jimmy Savile had led to a big rise in people seeking help, putting a huge strain on counselling services. It estimated more than 2,000 people were waiting for counselling, with one of its member organisations – New Pathways – saying some people had been waiting up to three years.
A charity which offers vital support to victims of historic sex abuse fears its future is under threat due to funding cuts. Wrexham-based Stepping Stones, which has had 50 direct referrals since the launch of Operation Pallial, says it is in a “vulnerable” position. Director Joy Dyment has warned that its waiting list will only get longer if it doesn’t receive the necessary cash to provide its free, confidential service in Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham
Stepping Stones, which has 20 professionally-qualified counsellors, is concerned about a potential 30% cut in funding by Flintshire as the authority is considering reducing voluntary sector funding by up to 10% in 2015/16, with the potential for further reductions in future years. “It’s putting very small charities like us under a lot of pressure,” said Joy. “It will threaten us if we don’t get replacement funding.“Our waiting list will get bigger and bigger. Charities like ours are vulnerable. It’s my job to look for funding but there is a lot of competition. “I know very well that local authorities are under pressure.
It does receive funding from Operation Pallial, but only for those directly referred under the probe into historic child abuse, and a £20,000 one-off payment by the Welsh Government to address the backlog was merely a “drop in the OCEAN”. Joy said: “I now need to sit down with my trustees and see what services we can provide.
“It’s very frustrating, we’re the only charity in North Wales that provides this very specialist counselling. “We don’t have students – we can’t have students – as it’s a complex area where we have to provide a high quality service, and we provide that for free. “We hope that the government are going to take on board that it needs to be sustained. We’re trying to develop a Friends of Stepping Stones to get volunteers to help with fundraising.” Neil Ayling, Chief Officer Social Services for Flintshire council, said: “Flintshire is considering reducing voluntary sector general funding by 10% in 2015/16 with the potential for further reductions. The detail of this has not yet been agreed and it is not proposed that there is a 10% reduction across the board. “Separate funding contributions from all the North Wales authorities for Stepping Stones to assist with the counselling referrals arising out of Operation Pallial will be protected.”