A hundred years to the day when (some) women won the right to vote, Brighton Women’s Centre is reeling from the news that one of its core services – providing counselling for women’s mental health issues, is facing a huge cut. Green Councillors join the widespread condemnation of the £80,000 cut in funding that could signal the end of this vital service.
Lisa Dando, Director of the Brighton Women’s Centre said:
“Brighton Women’s Centre (BWC) is hugely disappointed and gravely concerned about the decision to remove funding from its women-only counselling service – the only holistic, trauma informed and gender specific service in the city. We know from national and local reports that women’s mental health needs are escalating with 22% of women in Brighton and Hove compared to 15% of men living with depression. For many women anxiety and depression are the tip of the iceberg – symptoms that often belie more serious evidence of past trauma. We feel strongly that whilst this cut to our funding will save money in the short term it will certainly result ultimately in greater strain on our already over stretched health service. Not to mention the further negative impact on the health inequalities of women and their families.”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green Group commented:
“I have been horrified to learn that there is a cut to the counselling service for Brighton Women’s Centre- a service funded by local health authorities. The Brighton Women’s Centre were given just 3 months’ notice with no consultation on the decision. This is a grant of £80,000; but as anyone who has worked with the Brighton Women’s Centre knows, they not only stretch every penny but are also a deeply valued lifeline to so many.
“100 years today some women won the right to vote. It should be a day for celebration but it’s clear there is still far to go for genuine lasting equality for women. Research from the Women’s Budget Group suggests as much as 85% of the burden of austerity since 2010 has fallen on women- and cuts to social care and mental health have been massive. In the context of this, services such as counselling need protecting, not cutting.
“Greens condemn government cuts that have had a huge impact on women. On today of all days we say austerity has been massively destructive to women. We will continue the fight against the Tories’ failed austerity experiment, and the fight continues for women’s full participation in society.”
Councillor Lizzie Deane, Green Councillor for St Peters and North Laine, added:
“A damning report by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) found that services targeted at mental health problems among women and girls are “almost entirely absent” from current Government strategy. We appeal to the health authority’s Wellbeing Partnership to reverse this cut to vital counselling services at the Brighton Women’s Centre. If this cannot be supported directly through existing funding, we ask them to work with the council, other public bodies and community and voluntary organisations to
ensure that this cut is reviewed and halted.
“The bold suffragettes knew 100 years ago that the fight for equality would not end with the vote. We have only to look at the cuts affecting our fantastic Women’s Centre and women’s refuges nationwide to see that fight for women’s rights in public life is far from over.”