SDLP Children and Young People’s Spokesperson Cara Hunter has said services that provide support to children who have experienced sexual abuse must receive the necessary funding.
She was speaking after Nexus announced they could no longer offer support to 4-7-year-olds and would be pausing support for young people aged 8-16.
Ms Hunter said money should not be an issue when it comes to supporting those who have experienced abuse.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“To think that children and young people who have been through such an awful ordeal will have counselling and support withdrawn over funding issues is very hard to take. Sexual abuse at any age will have a profound impact on a victim’s life with ripple effects that could lead to long-term issues which will require continued help to overcome.
“For children and young people that have been abused an early intervention is key, the sooner they enter counselling and have a support network in place, the better the outcome for them. We know that many people often wait until adulthood to seek support and the harm that suffering in silence causes to people.
“I cannot imagine what the children impacted by this and their parents are going through, to tell a child who has been a victim of abuse that their counselling will be stopped or paused must be incredibly difficult and I know that Nexus would not be taking this step if they had any other choice. Far too often community organisations are expected to step in and provide services and they must be properly funded to carry out their vital work.”
SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath said:
“The lack of funding to support organisations helping children and young people is unfathomable and this announcement by Nexus will cause serious concern for victims and their families. We must ensure that younger victims can access the same services as anyone else and the Department of Health must take steps to put specific funding in place to allow organisations like Nexus to provide support for this age group without relying on piecemeal funding applications.
“This is yet another example of the difference an Executive could make to the lives of people in the North. We cannot stand by while sexual abuse victims are denied help. When Stormont returns the SDLP Opposition will be calling on the department and any new Health Minister to introduce funding to ensure that every victim gets the support they need.”