Emergency £1.6m for women's crisis charities

Harriet Harman announces new special fund open to applications

The Government has given an extra £1.6m to an emergency grant fund for voluntary organisations that work with the victims of sexual abuse and rape but are at risk of closure.

The funding was announced yesterday by Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, and is a cross-departmental initiative of the Government Equalities Office, the Department of Health and the Home Office.

Members of the Survivors Trust and Rape Crisis England and Wales can apply for the new money over the next 12 months.

The special fund for the sexual abuse voluntary sector was first announced last March and has so far supported 20 rape centres with emergency funding totalling £1.1m.

"This fund is important for safeguarding the local organisations that support women who have been victims of rape," said Harman.

Fay Maxted, chief executive of the Survivors Trust, said the fund meant struggling services would be able to apply for emergency funding to keep them afloat for longer.

The trust, an umbrella body for more than 120 voluntary sector agencies providing counselling and therapy for victims of sexual abuse, said that eight of its members had closed since 2007 because of funding problems.

An ‘awarding board' for the fund will begin working from next month and grants will be allocated to organisations most at risk of closure.

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