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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Rape helpline faces cash crisis
Esther O'Reilly and Janet Owen, Rape Crisis Line
Rape Crisis Line workers are desperately searching for funds

A crisis line which provides support to victims of rape and abuse in north Wales is facing closure unless a financial lifeline is found.

The Bangor-based Rape Crisis Line is running out of funds and will have to shut down its services unless funds are found by September.

Their only full-time worker, Janet Owen, will have to cut her working hours from July and the charity will then be on borrowed time.

Ms Owen says she is spending all her time filling in application forms rather than doing the outreach work she was appointed to do, in an attempt to secure the 36,000 the charity needs.

She has already sent out 10 bids to health authorities, social services and privately-run bodies and has so far received eight rejection letters.

The lottery funding which has been keeping the helpline afloat will finally come to an end in September and the charity is not eligible to apply to the same fund again.

Some of the women who phone are desperate - sometimes it is the first time they have spoken to anyone about it
Esther O'Reilly, volunteer

The line is the only one in north Wales and provides telephone and face-to-face counselling in Holyhead, Pwllheli, Bangor, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Rhyl.

It also receives calls from all over Flintshire and Denbighshire and as far as Manchester and Aberystwyth.

A similar line in Chester has recently closed down because of lack of funds.

"As well as rape victims who are going through police procedures, some of the women that contact us have suffered sexual or physical abuse as children," said Ms Owen.

"These events have a devastating effect of their lives and have often led to mental health problems, self harm and alcohol or drug abuse."

Desperate

Volunteer and charity trustee, Esther O'Reilly, says some of the women who phone are desperate.

"Sometimes it is the first time they have spoken to anyone about it.

"They could now be 55 and abused when they were five years old and never told anyone about it until they speak to us.

"It is a vital service. We are the first port of call for these women who have sometimes had psychiatric treatment because of what has happened to them."

Kilimanjaro

Unless the full amount is found the outreach work which involves face-to-face counselling, visits to schools and conferences and vital training and supervision will be lost.

But with a minimum of 5,000 per year to pay phone bills a skeleton service could continue.

In a bid to boost their coffers, Janet Owen is preparing for a sponsored climb up mount Kilimanjaro in Africa with her husband, Aled.

The pair will be travelling to Tanzania on 14 June and hope to reach the snow-capped top Mr Owen's birthday, 21 June.

"Hopefully Kilimanjaro will raise enough funds to give the volunteers the money needed to run the line and get support," said Janet Owen.

"The volunteers have rallied round but at the moment I can see no light at the end of the tunnel."




SEE ALSO:
New rape law 'will protect victims'
01 Nov 02  |  Scotland
Wallace rejects rape law change
30 May 01  |  Scotland
Sex laws shake-up unveiled
29 Jan 03  |  Politics


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