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Scottish Women’s Rights Centre launched

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre was launched on 22nd April at the University of Strathclyde. The event was a great success and resulted in many agencies contacting regarding the new service.

The SWRC offers free legal information and advice to women survivors of gender based violence. It is a partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland, the Legal Services Agency and The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic. The project is funded until September 2016 by the Scottish Government through the Scottish legal Aid Board and by Foundation Scotland until 2017. The project is overseen by a specialist Advisory Group and is co-ordinated, on a part time basis, by Katy Mathieson of RCS Helpline.

The SWRC has gone live with a free legal helpline, currently running once per week on Wednesday afternoons from 1.30 – 4.30pm. The Helpline is available via a Freephone number on 08088 010 789. The helpline is staffed by law students from the University of Strathclyde who have undergone an internal training programme with RCS covering awareness of GBV, legal remedies and support skill practice. The helpline service is supported by a qualified solicitor and by the SWRC Co-Ordinator.

The SWRC is currently recruiting a full time solicitor who will contribute to the service delivery and who will also be able to take on a limited number of cases for representation.

The SWRC will develop a network of pro bono solicitors willing to donate their time to the project and intends to establish free legal drop ins across Scotland. Work is underway with Lanarkshire RCC and the local Violence Against Women Partnerships to develop the first drop in. SWRC drop ins will offer free legal information and advice and access to representation where appropriate.

The SWRC will offer its services to women survivors across the spectrum of GBV and anticipates in offering legal information and advice in the following areas:

  • Obtaining protection in cases of gender based violence, including harassment and stalking
  • Housing/Welfare advice
  • Issues regarding the residence and contact of children where there has been gender based violence.
  • Initial information about legal rights of a woman involved in the dissolution of a relationship where there has been gender based violence.
  • Reporting a crime of violence through the criminal justice process.
  • The rights of a victim in any criminal justice proceedings (restricted to matters which fall within civil/human rights law).
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation.

The SWRC will produce helpful information guides for women including Frequently Asked Questions regarding both civil and criminal law. It will also contribute to developing practice through second tier advice to legal practitioners, through contributing to policy, training and research.

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