Funding cuts could close Open Secret

A vital service which supports survivors of childhood abuse could cease to exist if Falkirk Council cuts its funding.

Open Secret has real concerns for its future as the council continues to review the level of monetary support it gives to the service.

And this week the Falkirk area’s two SNP MSPs, Angus MacDonald and Michael Matheson, urged the local authority not to reduce the core funding by a reported £68,000.

The council started giving Open Secret money to meet its running costs when the service began in 1994 and has continued to provide funding on an annual basis, currently allowing 35 volunteers to see mre than 300 clients per year.

Janine Rennie, Open Secret chief executive, 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“That money allows us to run the office and recruit our volunteers and it would be catastrophic for us if it were to be withdrawn. If it was okay for them to provide funding for us for the last 20 years, what has changed now? We have just won an award for excellence in healthcare.

“We recognise the council is trying to save money but I have asked them to give us another year so we can try and find other sources of funding. They are doing this too soon. I have juggled the figures every which way you can and I cannot see Open Secret going on if the £68,000 is cut.”

In October last year Falkirk Council received a report on how the £149,442 Open Secret received from the local authority in 2012-13 was spent. While it was noted the service was of value to its clients, councillors stated there was not enough detail about how local people were benefiting.

A Council spokesperson said: “Services for people affected by abuse are being reviewed to make sure the best possible support is being provided. This includes services provided by Women’s Aid, Open Secret, Relationship Scotland and Rape Crisis.

“The review is ongoing and no final decisions will be taken until it has been concluded and its findings reported to elected members.”

Mr MacDonald said: “I am extremely concerned by the threat to Open Secret’s core funding. At a time when the Scottish Parliament is calling for higher priority to addressing childhood sexual abuse in general, we find Falkirk Council considering cutting back on a much needed service.

“It is imperative Falkirk Council continue to core fund Open Secret.”

Mr Matheson added: “I call on Falkirk Council to think again in considering scrapping core funding and to work with Open Secret to find ways of improving the service, not threaten its very existence.”

The matter will be discussed again at a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday, May 8.