Belfast Telegraph

Helpline calls rise despite cuts

Desperate calls to a rape crisis helpline rose by almost a fifth last year as it was forced to cut its budget by 20%, it has emerged.

Galway Rape Crisis Centre (GRCC) heard from 621 people in 2010, up from 518 the previous year, many who have waited decades before coming forward for help.

Figures also showed there was almost one rape a week in the region, with staff supporting 50 victims of sexual assault. A startling 40% were teenagers.

Aoibheann McCann, executive director, revealed that number has almost doubled so far this year, but said budget cuts have led to longer waiting lists for one-to-one counselling.

"We tried to make cutbacks that would lessen the impact on clients including pay cuts and non-replacement of staff but ultimately clients were hit with less counselling available," said Ms McCann.

GRCC's expenditure was cut by more than 80,000 euro due to a 10% drop in state funding and another 10% fall in fundraising revenue.

A total 33 people are currently waiting to see a counsellor - some of who have been on a list for more than six months.

Figures also revealed there was a 7% decrease in the amount of counselling sessions available - from 2,609 in 2009 to 2,422 last year.

The percentage of men using the service rose from 12% to 14%.

The number of people aged in their 50s also jumped, with many having memories of child sex abuse triggered by high-profile court cases or clerical abuse reports.

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