Falkirk charity angered by claims

Open Secret offers support to victims of child abuse
Open Secret offers support to victims of child abuse
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Furious charity workers complain the full extent of their work was not revealed to councillors – despite them providing all the facts.

Open Secret, which provides support for survivors of childhood abuse, was involved in a ‘following the public pound’ exercise with Falkirk Council. The scrutiny process looks at organisations which get funding from the local authority to ensure the money is being used properly.

Earlier this month, councillors received a report on how the £149,442 Open Secret received in 2012/13 was spent.

However, while noting the service was valued by service users, it stated: “There is a level of concern as to the diversification of the service particularly in relation to the more recent grant funding to provided services for children and schools.”

Councillors heard concerns that although much was reported about the work being done by Open Secret across Central Scotland, there was not enough detail about how local people were benefiting.

Social work director Margaret Anderson said the organisation, which was set up in 1994, was originally given cash to meet its running costs.

She said: “However, the information doesn’t answer all of what Falkirk Council is receiving in return for its money. It is important to know exactly what is being provided and we would suggest calling for a further report.

“We believe it would be remiss to reach a final conclusion without more information.”

Backing the need for another report, Councillor Joan Paterson said: “We must have as much information as possible about this organisation.”

However, Janine Rennie, Open Secret’s chief executive, said the information had already been provided to the council – six weeks before the scrutiny committee met.

She said: “We were totally misrepresented at the committee and are very unhappy, particularly as it appeared to convey a message that we were diversifying and the Falkirk Council area would suffer.

“The true story is we have brought in services to the area that otherwise people would not have had. We are very disappointed.”

Open Secret currently employs 28 paid staff, 35 sessional workers and has around 35 volunteers.

In 2012-13 it received 308 new referrals from the Falkirk area.