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The caged bird sings

This is a space where you can hear different voices; our staff and volunteers who have kept the Centre going over the last 40 years, our friends, colleagues and supporters from across the violence against women sector, and people who have used our services and want to share their experiences.

“Another Week at the Coal Face ….”

By Isabelle Kerr, Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre Manager

On Monday 5th September 2016 on my way into work I bumped into a couple of workers from another women’s organisation in our building.

“Hi Isabelle, how are you?” said one.

“Fine,” I replied.

“Another week at the coal face, eh?” she said

“As long as there’s plenty of caffeine to get us through it,” I said.

And indeed it was another week right at the coal face for Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre.

Monday 5th September

We’re at Stage 2 of a Big Lottery bid to expand our service so we can meet the ever increasing demand for support. Almost done now with our tweaking and re-tweaking so getting very nervous. This is my priority for early week.

It’s hard to keep a focus with the doorbell constantly buzzing as women arrive for appointments and the phones ring continually. It’s our Scottish Women’s Rights Centre surgery today so we’re even busier than usual (if that is actually possible).

At 12 o’clock I meet with Superintendent John McKenzie at Police Scotland's JohnMcKPublic Protection Unit in G Division in Glasgow. Our Support to Report Project works closely with the Divisional Rape Investigation Unit so we’re often in touch with officers. John is being interviewed by STV on Tuesday for a news piece they have filmed about the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre’s 40th Anniversary, talking about how things have changed for survivors over the past 40 years.

By 5 pm it’s quietened down a bit but we’re getting ready for the final session of our Survivor Support Group. Two of us have been facilitating this group of amazingly strong, funny, resourceful women. We’re so glad they will continue to participate in our work and give us their feedback on our services.

Tuesday 6th September

In before 8 am with plans to spend some quiet time putting finishing touches to the Big Lottery application. There are word limits on each section so it’s difficult to put in a lot of information, but I’m sure the follow on discussion we’ll have with funding officers will give us the chance to provide much more detail about what we do. There’s so much going on here that we just can’t fit it into 500 words.

I manage to catch up with one or two workers as they come in to start the day, more coffee and a final look at the application. Then, we start over again as the doorbell buzzes and the phones start ringing.

We restarted our Initial Support Session appointments last week – which are those first meetings with new women coming to the centre for support. For some months all new referrals have been coming in through our drop-in service but we found that there just wasn’t enough time to give to women during the drop-in hours and women often had to wait a long time which isn’t suitable. And of course we just didn’t have the space to accommodate so many women coming in each week. We thought that reinstating the Tuesday appointments would help ease the pressure on the drop-in. Within one week our ISS appointments are booked up a couple of weeks ahead.

Also today we received a link to the September issue of the Student Advertiser. They had published an open letter from us to the leader of Glasgow City Council outlining why it makes political, social and economic sense to adequately fund the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre. We do receive some funding from the council but that grant has been frozen for 13 years while the demand on our service grows year on year. Watch this space for the letter to be posted in its entirety on our blog.

Before heading off for an early finish, I’m sending off some artwork for flyers we’re having printed for Glasgow University’s Freshers Week. We have been chosen as their named charity this year for fundraising during Freshers Week so we’re getting organised with collection buckets, flyers and hopefully lots of photos that we can share around our own social media.

Wednesday 7th September

Have a couple of competing demands on my desk: the Director’s Report for the annual accounts and the financial information for the Big Lottery bid now that the narrative part of the application is complete. As the organisation’s Company Secretary it’s my job to write up the report and present it to the Board of Directors for their approval. I decide to tackle the Big Lottery financial information today and do some work on the Director’s Report this evening. I’ll be around this evening as the drop-in is open on a Wednesday from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm so it’s always useful to have two support workers on duty just in case. It was pretty quiet last Wednesday so I’m confident I’ll get my report done.

Sue and I sit with the Big Lottery financial spreadsheets in front of us calculating income, expenditure, full cost recovery and all things budget related. Finally, Sue takes the papers home to work on.

The drop-in opens at 5.30 pm and by 5.35 pm both Janette and I are in support sessions. Janette’s session is long and complex so I also see the next woman who is waiting. Notes written up, helpline finished, lights out and home. Report not touched.

Thursday 8th September

Janette and I have an 8.30 am start for the Renfrewshire Child Protection Partnership Conference in Johnstone. I’m child protection officer for Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre so hoping to refresh my skills and hear what’s going on in other agencies. The conference is very good with a couple of really inspirational speakers. One of the keynote speakers, Nazir Afzal, a former Chief Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in the North of England gave some excellent insight into his work prosecuting some very high profile cases of the sexual exploitation of young women in Rochdale and Rotherham as well as cases involving celebrities. Lot to think about on the way back to Glasgow.

On the way back I check emails to see that we’ve received a report from Community Enterprise in Scotland who have been doing some work with us on looking at our profile, our logo and our marketing. The report is really detailed and very interesting. This will help us develop a new up to date look for the organisation as we move past our 40th Anniversary.

My emails also show me that the Cheerleading President from Glasgow Caledonian University has been in touch with us again. She was in touch a while back to talk to us about doing some fundraising for the Centre over the next year so we arrange to meet up and get some photos of the team wearing our 40th Anniversary tshirts.

So, from Johnstone to Glasgow via a cheese and onion toastie to our volunteer recruitment open evening which starts at 6 pm. Janette, Angie and I met with some great women who are really keen to begin training with us. Our assessment weekend will be next Saturday and Sunday so we are all looking forward to that.

On the fundraising front, we find that David Linden, Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Glasgow MP Alison Thewliss (MP for Glasgow Central, where our DavidLCentre is based) has been promoting his fundraising run for our organisation. David will be taking part in the Great Scottish Run on October 2nd to raise funds for Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre. He’s galloping towards his £1,000 target so he’s bringing in the big guns at the Palace of Westminster with video appeals from MPs Mhairi Black and Alex Salmond to help boost his fundraising total. Check it out on @DavidLinden

Friday 9th September

It’s Friday morning and of course, there’s plenty of coffee brewing as I write this. It’s been a busy week for all of us at Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre. Since Monday we’ve had 24 new referrals through our helpline, initial support appointments, Support to Report, Ruby Project, Rosey Project, Scottish Women’s Right Centre, GEMAP money advice and our drop-in. We have also had 79 appointments, though that number will certainly rise before the week is up as we have our Ruby Project drop in today and our helpline is open today, Saturday and Sunday.

The day began early with the Director’s Report on my desk and that’s progressing well but had to stop for a while to attend the Standing Group on Violence Against Women meeting.

Angie is helping me get my new Twitter account set up – I was excited about this but now I’m feeling a bit nervous because I always think everyone is so interesting on Twitter and I’m worried that I will bore the pants off everybody.

Tonight we’re fundraising again with a pub quiz organised by one of our volunteers. Everyone’s looking forward to it – we know it will be great fun and more cash raised for our Centre.

Saturday 10th September

Looking ahead, our staff and volunteers will be undertaking Safe Talk suicide intervention training that is being provided by SAMH today. Although we have extensive training on suicide intervention in our internal training programme, it’s part of our workers’ continuing professional development to keep up our skills with regular updates.

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