Sexual abuse charity granted £150,000 to expand services

A charity which provides support to survivors of sexual abuse has received nearly £150,000 to expand its services for the next five years.

Survivors of Sexual Childhood Abuse Information and Resources (SSCHAIR) has been granted £149,989 from the Big Lottery Fund, primarily to extend support workers’ hours.

The funds will be paid over the course of five years and will secure the employment of two staff members for the next five years. The £30,000 a year grant will allow support worker Suzi Inkster to continue in her role, as well as creating a second post of around 10 hours per week.

Following a revamp and expansion of services in April SSCHAIR has been working to raise awareness of, and funds for, the support they provide.

Operating under the tutelage of liaison worker Laura Herculson and Ms Inkster, SSCHAIR aims to support anybody whose lives have been affected by childhood sexual abuse – including survivors, partners and perpetrators’ families.

Since April the number of SSCHAIR users has been increasing with the figure growing to more than 20 people.

Group discussions and activities are an important part of the work SSCHAIR does to support people accessing the service, allowing survivors to overcome social anxieties and discuss trauma.

Miss Herculson said: “Part of the service that is being offered is about being there for people when they need someone to talk to. We can meet up and go for a cup of tea or do an activity like going swimming.

“Quite often doing something in public can be a massive barrier. Just having a familiar face there, even if you have only met them once before, can be incredibly comforting.”

One of the central philosophies of the charity is to provide support tailored to the needs of users rather than attempting to slot people into services which do not meet their needs appropriately, Miss Herculson said.

Miss Herculson that with the support from the Big Lottery Fund the charity “can now develop in the way that survivors want it to.”

She added: “We would like to thank the Big Lottery for supporting SSCHAIR and allowing us to continue improving our service to the benefit of all people who are accessing it.”

Maureen McGinn, chairwoman for the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “I am delighted that SSCHAIR has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant.

“The funding will make a difference where it is needed most and I wish SSCHAIR every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of the local community.”

In her role as liaison officer Miss Herculson promotes “joined up working across services” and is working to set up the Public Social Partnership. She hopes this will allow for “easy access to services and better outcomes for people accessing those services.”

Before receiving funding from the Big Lottery SSCHAIR was primarily supported by the Scottish Government initiative Survivor Scotland and also by Inspiring Scotland.

• If you have been affected by childhood abuse and would like to refer yourself to SSCHAIR contact 07747 097 160, or attend the Tuesday evening drop-in session at the Shetland Linkup premises on Commercial Street.


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