By Claire Gilfillan, Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre office administrator
When I went to Glasgow Rape Crisis for an interview for the position of Administrator/Finance Support I had no idea what I was entering into. It was nothing like I expected, which was that it would be very clinical, quiet and formal - and what a shock I received walking through the door.
When entering I was greeted very warmly, offered a cup of tea and shown towards the reception area to have a seat. As I looked around I was pleasantly surprised; it was very warm with candles lit and immediately I felt at ease.
After my interview I was shown around the support rooms and again it felt warm, cosy and homely - nothing at all what I expected. I was introduced to some of the staff members who were in the office and again I was shocked how many workers were needed and still more are needed for this essential and so underfunded and undervalued service. I suppose I expected one room with one worker, so that was an eye opener.
When I started working here I had a very small knowledge of what the centre provided for women. I had no idea that the centre offered services like:
· The Ruby Project which has an Independent sexual violence advocacy worker who works specifically with women seeking asylum and refugee women on a range of issues. The Ruby Project also supports woman from black and ethnic minority communities who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and sexual violence
· The Rosey Project which has a Prevention and Development worker that goes around schools, community groups etc. to deliver education and training workshops, give talks and raise awareness for boys and girls around sexual violence. The project also has a Young Women’s Support Worker who supports young women aged 13 and over who have experienced rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and sexual bullying.
· Support to Report service where the Support to report Co-ordinator can arrange with the women and men to give a statement to police at a place that the woman or man feels safe so it can be at this centre or at their home or at the police station if they so wish the worker will support the woman through the court process etc. and will be on hand to support that woman for any questions or information they may need, and also for any practical issues they may have i.e. benefits, housing issues etc. Recently some additional funding has allowed us to have another two part time workers to work in the project.
· Core Support for women needing support for historical/childhood/recent abuse, rape, sexual violence or sexual assault.
· Drop In service on a Wednesday morning and evening for women that need immediate support, or for their family members.
· Family Support Service to support them with what they are going through with their friend, partner or family member.
· Group Work sessions available open to any women that feel this could be beneficial to them: Survivor Support Groups, Trauma Recovery Groups, Young Women’s Groups and Family Support Groups.
· Telephone Helpline Service - we have a Helpline Co-ordinator who ensures that all shifts are covered and keeps staff alert to new protocols and changes which are being made she also is on hand to answer any questions, advice and support that the helpline workers may need the helpline is predominately manned by our fully trained and skilled volunteers who do a fantastic job and are very much appreciated by everyone in the centre and are part of our team.
· New Volunteer Training happens once a year and our Volunteer Training Co-ordinator works tirelessly throughout the year ensuring the volunteers are trained, confident and supported.
Management - what can I say about these two people who do an amazing job holding the whole place together and working tirelessly to raise more support, funding and grants and dealing with daily issues that may arise? They are there at any time for advice, support and a chat whenever needed.
Immediately I felt I belonged there as part of the team. I belong to an Administration/ Finance background so that felt strange with everyone very supportive and very friendly and always available if needed. I had so many questions regarding the service we provided to women and still do, but my co-workers always have time to explain to me how things happen and what we do in certain circumstances. Although I don’t do support work I know when a co-worker has had a tough session and may need a chat - nothing confidential is discussed, just a bit of support and maybe other workers’ acknowledgement that they are there for a chat or often that someone is making them a wee cuppa is all that’s needed.
We also have open discussions and it’s good for me to be involved in these and to understand some of the issues better. We also have training from other groups and they help also with everyone’s development because in Glasgow Rape Crisis development doesn’t stop, it’s on-going.
Support workers don’t have an easy job but it’s a job they obviously love doing and they are pretty damn good at it. It amazes me when you see a woman walking through the door the first time to when she walks out that door when her sessions are finished and you can see the pain and strain on her face lifted - that lifts the whole office’s mood, and when we hear the feedback we receive as a team it’s amazing to know we are making a difference to women’s lives and that feels damn good in my opinion.
I have learned so much about the service we provide and also I have learned so much more about myself - this job has truly changed my life in so many ways.
That is why this year I am taking the support worker training to learn as much as I can and to help as much as I can because I really don’t think enough people know what kind of service we supply and what is involved and to what extent. I suppose I was the person - before I started working at Glasgow Rape Crisis – who was saying “surely it’s not that bad and surely not many people need this kind of service and to this scale”. Well how wrong was I?