Irish Examiner, Monday, February 23, 2004, by Evelyn Ring
THE support group One in Four has vowed to continue assisting victims of sexual abuse despite a 24% cut in funding.The charity recently signed a 12 month service agreement with the Department of Health and Children but the State funding is less than that allowed last year.
In 2003, One in Four received €504,000 in State Funding while this year it will receive €383,238.
Last October, One in Four threatened to cease operating at the end of the month because of a dispute with the department over the funding of its counselling programme
Funding provided by the department this year, however, specifically excludes any grant provision for the organisation's therapy programme.
"We must now put in place a dynamic fundraising programme to make up the shortfall in our funding," said One in Four director, Colm O'Gorman yesterday.
The rock group U2 gave One in Four a welcome boost at the time of their threatened closure when it donated €40,000. One in Four was also overwhelmed by hundreds of other individual offering support.
Mr O'Gorman, who has a personal salary of €80,000 a year, pointed out that the charity would have to be 40% self-funded in their second year of operation. "One in Four will now have to secure further funding amounting to some €260,000 to maintain current service levels for 2004," Mr O'Gorman added.
He said voluntary contributions made by clients towards the cost of their psychotherapy programme only represent about 10% of the total cost involved.
And while funding is provided by the Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI) body Faoiseamh, to support victims of institutional or clerical abuse, they represented just 30% of their clients.
"It is regrettable that the department has chosen not to fund our therapy programme which will provide some 5,000 therapeutic sessions in the coming year to women and men who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual violence," he said.
While he, of course, acknowledged that the department had established the National Counselling service and funded other non-Government organisations (NGOs), waiting lists of up to 24 hours in some areas clearly indicated that current service provision was falling short in meeting the needs of over one million citizens sexually abused as children.
"We believe we can get through the year but we are going to have to work very hard to get the funding we need. At least we now have a signed service agreement with the department so we now know where we stand in regard to what the State is prepared to give us. That is a binding agreement and there can be no going back on it."
Mr O'Gorman said the salaries he and his staff were comparable to those of officials working in the National Counselling service and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
"It is not good enough for me, or for anyone else, to develop a service and set salary scales at levels that would mean that we would be unable to replace staff in the future," he pointed out. The department was aware of the salary scales and would have helped One in Four in setting them out.