Falkirk’s Open Secret in funding cut

Open Secret will be �60,000 a year worst off
Open Secret will be �60,000 a year worst off

A national charity that helps victims of childhood abuse is to lose £60,000 of funding.

Open Secret, based in Falkirk’s Thornhill Road, will see its funding from Falkirk Council drop from £149,000 to £89,000 over the next two years.

Councillors and officials behind the decision argued that Open Secret, while providing an invaluable service, had become a national agency and should receive a sum proportionate to the number of clients it had in Falkirk.

However, Open Secret’s chief executive Janine Rennie said the move could put the entire service at risk.

Speaking to The Falkirk Herald last month, she said: “That money allows us to run the office and recruit our volunteers and it would be catastrophic for us if it were to be withdrawn.”

Four abuse-related organisations – Open Secret, Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis, and Relationship Scotland – came up for review at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

During the debate, councillors heard 78 per cent of the £149,000 given to Open Secret paid staff wages, while 1.5 per cent covered expenses.

In agreeing the reduction in funding, councillors also agreed to talk to Women’s Aid to develop a triage service and form joint working agreements with all four agencies.

Baillie Joan Paterson, who chaired the debate, said: “I am clear in my mind that this is the right thing to do.

“It is my job to ensure that every penny that is spent by Falkirk Council benefits the people of Falkirk and improves the service we receive.

“Open Secret is now a nationwide organisation, and we should not need to provide core funding.”

Councillor Allyson Black said: “Having Women’s Aid take a lead on this using their reserves to resource the service makes good use of the money and provides the expertise that an organisation spanning more than 30 years has acquired.

“The most important people are the service users, and they will continue to receive a service that fully meets their needs, that was never in doubt.”

Tuesday’s decision will be remitted to the Executive for final approval.