A NEW national centre to help women affected by crimes such as domestic abuse and sexual violence is being launched today.
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) aims to offer legal advice and information to women who have experienced, or are suffering from, gender based violence.
Tackling the scourge of domestic abuse and sexual violence is a huge priority for the Scottish GovernmentCommunity Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse
Campaigners said the Glasgow-based centre, which will operate a weekly helpline, will make a “significant difference” to the lives of affected women.
The centre is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency, with the helpline to be staffed by volunteers from the university’s law clinic.
Rape Crisis Scotland spokeswoman Sandy Brindley said: “Women in Scotland who have experienced rape, domestic abuse or any other form of violence against women need access to free, specialist legal advice and support.
“This could be to help make them aware of their rights to protective orders in cases of domestic abuse and/or stalking, advice on housing and welfare issues, or responding to queries about their role as a witness following the report of a rape or sexual assault.
“We are delighted to be involved in the development of this exciting new service, which we believe will make a significant difference to the lives of women in Scotland”.
From today, women will be able to call the new centre’s helpline for legal information and advice on any aspect of gender based violence.
The SWRC also plans to develop a network of pro-bono solicitors to offer drop in services in rape crisis centres across Scotland.
Funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board will cover the costs of a full time solicitor for the centre, who will be based within the Legal Services Agency and will provide free legal advice and representation. The centre also receives some funding from Foundation Scotland.
Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse is launching the base today.
He said: “Tackling the scourge of domestic abuse and sexual violence is a huge priority for the Scottish Government. The helpline being introduced today, backed by £215,000 of Scottish Government funding and administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, will provide vital access to advice and high quality legal assistance for those affected by these horrendous crimes.”
The SWRC helpline (08088 010 789) will run every Wednesday afternoon from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS