News & events
2016 - A Year in Review
2016 ended with a real bang for WRASAC and our services. We had a fantastic and youthful turnout to our annual Reclaim the Night. This was quickly followed by our first national conference on Prostitution and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. We thought we would take this opportunity at the end of the year to reflect on our achievements over the last year.
Our staff and volunteers
We are incredibly lucky to have such a highly skilled and dedicated team of staff and volunteers. You only have two speak to them or listen to the feedback from survivors who use our services to discover the passion for the work they do. Our volunteers have provided over 860 hours to our service in the last year, this does not include the commitment and time that our Board of Governors provide to ensure the smooth running of our Centre.
"I have been seeing the psychologist that they sent me to from the pain clinic. It's a nightmare. It's nothing like here. They are trying to fit me into boxes, whereas here I am the box. They don't look at me they just look at a series of symptoms. Here, I know we do look at trauma and the psychology of it, but it's very different. Here, I feel like you see me." Survivor 2016
Some of our Highlights
Our Vice Versa service, in partnership with Encompass Network, hosted a fantastic conference on prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation. We had a host of speakers, including:
- Rachel Moran – a survivor of prostitution and a member of SPACE International
- Catriona Graham from Turn Off the Red Light campaign in Ireland
- Detective Superintendent Pauline McCallum – Police Scotland lead for Rape and Sexual Crime; Prostitution and Human Trafficking
It was attended by 82 people and the feedback was excellent. We took an indicative vote at the conference about how supportive attendees were of Scotland adopting a challenging demand approach, similar to that of the Nordic Model. It was overwhelmingly backed. We received local and national press coverage – including STV News at 6!
“A very informative and interesting event, great speakers, very engaging, well done.”
Our new Advocacy Project started in December 2015 – and has already made a huge impact. Our Advocacy Support Worker, Lesley McGee, has done an amazing job in establishing the service. So far this year she supported an incredible 73 women! Her job is to support survivors of sexual violence and abuse, who are considering or wish to report to the police, to improve their experience of the criminal justice system and also to improve responses from the police and courts.
"I would never have been able to get through court if I didn't have you support" Survivor 2016
We are delighted to have secured three years funding to maintain and develop our Angus outreach service. Through the work that Laura Meffan has done the project has gone from strength to strength. Last year 83 women were supported, 57 of these were new referrals.
We are very fortunate to have Lisa Campbell join WRASAC in October – we are very excited to see how the project develops over the next year.
"Thank you for your time, your attention, acknowledgement and support of me in my journey. Mostly thank you for being a safe 'container' for my ""stuff"", allowing me to express, and sort through some of the tangled mess, and thank you for your honesty. With respect and much gratitude." Angus Survivor
New Independent Young People’s Service!
We were delighted to secure three years funding from Comic Relief to recruit a Senior Counselling Support Worker who will lead WRASAC in establishing an independent young people’s service for young women and men under the age of 18. Helen Hampton has just been recruited and starts on January 3. We are very excited to see how this develops.
Police Scotland Youth Volunteers
We’ve been very, very lucky to have developed such a good and close working relationship with the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers in Dundee. They have received training on the prevention pack and they went on to co-deliver training on sexting and consent to the National Working Group Conference on Childhood Sexual Exploitation. They were also asked to provide training to CEPOL - the European Police College!!
Women Support Service.
We continue to do huge amount of work to ensure survivors of sexual violence and abuse receive the highest quality of support. Last year we supported a total of 380 women in our service. 283 of these were from Dundee.
We have had to constantly grapple growing demands on the service. Our waiting list has fluctuated throughout the year, however it has remained higher than we would like, with survivors having to wait to receive long-term support. We help address this we now offer 3 Crisis Support Sessions to survivors so that we an at least try to meet their immediate needs.
We continue to offer a range of group work opportunities. Our creative group continues to be very popular! We were delighted to secure additional funding which will enable us to continue to offer the group from the Ashram Centre and also to take on new creative projects.
We received money from the NHS to run an 8 week Forest Yoga class which was run by Heart Space Yoga. This particular yoga is beneficial for the healing process predominantly after trauma, addiction, PTSD etc.
We have been very lucky to be able to offer forest yoga classes to survivors. Women are found this to be hugely beneficial in assisting them to manage the effects of trauma.
“I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to my experience. I have social anxiety disorder, eating disorder and when I become really anxious I self-harm. This yoga is really helping me on so many levels mentally, emotionally physically. I am starting to have a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. I am using the deep breathing techniques that we are learning at the yoga which is helping me to feel a bit more in control.” Survivor who attended Forest Yoga
Vice Versa – Supporting women involved in prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation.
We’ve had an incredibly busy year – we supported 83 women! We were sad to lose Kay Lonergan early this year – she done such a brilliant job in getting Vice Versa off the ground and developing the service. However, we now have two new staff working for the project – Amy and Lindsey Anne – who have really hit the ground running. We reintroduced our Street Outreach – which has proved to be really successful.
We have re-established a Dundee Prostitution Steering group to share information, improve practice and also look at what steps we need to take to ensure continued service provision after our funding runs out next year.
"You have made me happy when life for me is the most darkest I've suffered in 35 years of suffering Mental Health. Live would be no more for me death only option but you've struggled and had put up with treatment no family did. Angels - life for me is now possible". Survivor of Prostitution
Inside Out Project - Encompass Network
In this new phase of work in “Inside Outside the Sex Industry” – the women have been taking part in this national project whereby women take part in recorded conversations, using the power of storytelling. One woman commented that telling her story had really helped her to put closure on parts of her life. Another said that she had shared experiences that she had never told anyone. None of the women have appeared in the media nor have they been linked with campaigning organisations – their stories have not been heard before.
A new aspect of the work is that we want the women themselves to creatively tell their stories through photography. It will be their ideas and visions that direct what they produce as photo storytelling. They will supported in doing this by the Women's Support Project, who co-ordinates the Encompass Network, and by a commissioned photographer to bring their experiences to a wider audience.
We will be hosting an exhibition in Edinburgh in March 2017 which we hope will then go on tour around Scotland to ensure that these hidden voices are heard and seen. If you want to keep up to date with all we are doing – check out our blog at https://insideoutsidescotland.wordpress.com/
Dinner Dance & Fundraising
We took on our first every Fundraiser, Gwen, in February this year – this has been a huge learning curve for us. One of the highlights of the year was the organisation of our very first Dinner Dance in the Woodlands Hotel. Special thanks need to go to Aga, our new board member, who helped make this happen, The excellent DJ Neil Bell and of course everyone who supported us by donating prizes and coming along.
We have agreed to continue in 2017 with the Fundraiser post at 8 hours per week. We will be looking to concentrate our efforts in developing our fundraising within the broader community of Dundee and Angus and by focussing on developing our online and digital presence.
Plans for 2017
We’ve got a challenging year ahead – one which I’m sure, with your support, we can meet! Here’s just a few things we need to do:
- Set up our additional office space
- Establish and embed the Young Peoples Service
- Secure funding for the continuation of Vice Versa Project
- Promote our service and raise awareness about sexual violence and develop our Digital Technology to help us to do this
- Develop a new strategic plan
- Develop, strengthen and support our Board of Governors
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