Scots abuse victims fear change to support service

MSPs are being urged to intervene after the Scottish Government unveiled plans to 'tender out' the In Care Survivors Service Scotland, prompting fears among victims its 'unique services' will be lost under a new regime.
MSPs are being urged to intervene after the Scottish Government unveiled plans to 'tender out' the In Care Survivors Service Scotland, prompting fears among victims its 'unique services' will be lost under a new regime.
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ABUSE survivors have warned that plans to effectively end a “life-saving” national support service will harm Scots victims dealing with the trauma of childhood violation.

It is the latest clash between the Scottish Government and abuse survivors after some recently threatened to withdraw co-operation from a flagship public inquiry into historic abuse stretching back decades.

MSPs are now being urged to intervene after the Scottish Government unveiled plans to “tender out” the In Care Survivors Service Scotland (ICSSS) prompting fears among victims its “unique services” will be lost under a new regime.

But ministers insist there will be “no gap” in provision.

But one group of survivors has warned that the overhaul is “potentially dangerous” as it will change the type of service available to victims.

“The current model is the model that survivors trust,” they warn in a petition to MSPs.

“For some service users it has taken years to develop that trust. A change in service has a potential to cause harm.”

The current ICSSS set-up was established seven years ago after a national strategy to help survivors of child sexual abuse was unveiled.

The new plans will create a “broker service” which will mean survivors are simply referred on to other services in the NHS or social care.

“The new broker model without ICSSS to refer to would be potentially dangerous,” the petition adds.

The group will give evidence to MSPs this week and believe the current system and new “broker” approach could work together to enhance each other. But they fear NHS staff use a “time limited” Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach, which does not work.

An evaluation by Napier University in 2011 saw the ICSSS model recommended as being the most appropriate to work with survivors of abuse in care.

“We survivors and service users believe the current model meets our needs,” the petition adds.

“The work of the locally based development workers across Scotland is saving lives. It’s a lifeline to the service users some of whom have suicidal ideation and other mental and physical disorders. These are a legacy of the childhood trauma.”

It comes after the In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) group said repeated requests for meetings with education secretary Angela Constance, who ordered an inquiry into historic abuse, was turned down. They threatened to withdraw co-operation from the inquiry.

Scotland is one of the few countries in the world with dedicated funding for support services for survivors.

An extra £13.5 million was committed by ministers last May to fund a new In Care Survivor Support Service which they say will “expand” the existing service.

A government spokesman said: “This investment will enhance and expand the current range of services so survivors are able to access information, resources, support and services which meet their individual needs including psychological, physical, social, education, work and housing. One size does not fit all, which is why we are committed to an outcomes-based approach going forward.

“This approach will put people at the centre of the support they receive. Survivors have told us this is what they need.”