Rape Crisis is retrenching its entire staff except for the Director who will continue to run considerably scaled back services with volunteers. The notice to stakeholders below sums up the problems the social welfare sector is facing. We salute their efforts to keep services running against all odds and the professional, principled way they have dealt with their funding difficulties.
If you are as moved by this as we are, please email or tweet your MP, Ward Councillor, the mayor or anyone who you think could influence funding decisions. It is a travesty that we cannot pay for this vital service for women in Cape Town.
Notice to Stakeholders
Thursday 19 July 2012
On Monday 2 July 2012 the Rape Crisis Cape Town Board of Trustees served notice of retrenchment on its entire staff, except the Director, who will continue to keep the organisation running until the end of February 2013. She will work alongside the volunteer membership, which will include staff that are able to stay on for a time beyond their notice period. While the organisation will continue to function on a voluntary basis, it might have to radically cut back on some services. Rape Crisis staff are concerned about the reaction of stakeholders as well as the impact on those that use our services over the next few weeks, as the news gets circulated.
Rape Crisis has been engaging with various role players at the Departments of Social Development and Community Safety, as well as the Premier’s office, but at this stage it does not seem to present the possibility of ensuring the sustainability of Rape Crisis’s counselling and court support services over the long term.
We do appreciate that the needs of other organisations serving vulnerable groups and dealing with social, justice and health related problems are also pressing and that the global financial crisis has changed the economic landscape enormously. Job losses are occurring across all sectors, and businesses and companies are closing down alongside NGOs. Nonetheless, we believe that it is as much a state obligation to provide services to victims of violent crime as it is to provide an effective criminal justice system. Our hope is to find a way of ensuring some kind of sustainable funding for our counselling and court support services, which are essential. The other programmes such as advocacy and research can then continue to expand and contract with the availability of donor funding.
Rape Crisis is not an organisation that wants to lose the valuable skills, experience and institutional memory of its entire staff and we have done our best to come up with a strategy to try and retain these. We are the oldest women’s organisation in South Africa, with staff servicing a large number of volunteers who support and empower rape survivors entering the criminal justice system as well as supporting the recovery of survivors in communities. This model is one that has been well honed and even replicated by other organisations and government service providers over the years. Every effort has been made to get funding from international donors, the larger aid agencies, government departments that allocate grants, local corporate social investors and individual donations. The key problem seems to be that funders are no longer willing to pay for services that they think should be provided by the state.
In order to survive this extremely challenging period Rape Crisis is being forced to review our mandate and reconceptualise our strategy going forward. We realise that we will need to change the way we work and find new funding sources in order to be able to sustain our services to vulnerable communities. This means that the structure of the organisation will change. As we reinvent ourselves we will look to the latest trends in NGO operations and governance to inform our plans. We will also actively engage with the state to meet its obligations to provide services to victims of sexual offences.
However, in the event that we do not succeed in keeping our doors open beyond February 2013 we are looking for service providers to whom we can refer our clients in future in order to facilitate a transition for communities that have relied on our services in the past. If you feel your organisation can offer an equivalent or partial service to our clients from March 2013 please contact our Operations Manager Nazma Hendricks on (021) 684-1180 or firstname.lastname@example.org so that she can link you with the relevant service coordinator to discuss this further.
In all of this the last thing we want is for stakeholders to think that we are closing down. We are not closing down; we are continuing to run our services on a voluntary basis until further notice and making plans in the event that this strategy does not prove sustainable. Thank you so much for all your support, understanding and assistance. We have been quite overwhelmed by your goodwill and good wishes and the solidarity of many of you who are going through your own very similar difficulties.
All the best,