Survivors UK, the United Kingdom’s largest support service for men, lost its state funding. According to reports, the group previously received £70,000 a year from the Ministry of Justice. This changed when the Mayor of London’s office took over:
But since Survivors UK’s funding for counselling was switched from being dispensed by the Ministry of Justice’s victims’ fund to being distributed by the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime last year, the charity has not had its funding renewed. It was given £33,666 for a six month period by the Mayor’s office, and as of 31 March this year the funding has stopped. It has since launched a petition on Change.org to re-instate its funding.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime said there has been “no cut in funding for services to support male victims of abuse. In fact, we are investing over £4.1million in specialist services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence by 2016. This includes male victims”.
“The Mayor welcomes additional funding from the Ministry of Justice for a number of organisations working with victims in London, including Survivors UK.”
But Michael May at Survivors UK told The Independent that since learning that the funding would not be renewed, the charity has constantly been in contact with the Mayor’s office and has “heard nothing,” adding that there has been “no indication” that its £70,000 per year will be reinstated.
This decision comes after a 120% increase in reports from male victims of sexual violence in London:
London has the highest national prevalence and in 2014, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan Police – an increase of 120 per cent over 2012 figures. In addition, 518 men experienced a serious sexual assault, an increase of 80 per cent on 2012.
In 2014, in London, The Mayor allocated £1,292,666 to provide specialist support services for victims of sexual assault in London. Of that, £32,666 (2.5 per cent) was spent on specialist services supporting men and boys.
What makes this particularly appalling is that few people have supported the petition to reinstate funding. It currently sits at 3,040 signatures. As one journalist noted, ” To put that in context, the recent petition to remove the Protein World ads from the London Underground attracted 71,111 signatures.”
To put it into further context, the Protein World ads spawned dozens of articles, hundreds of blog posts, and thousands of tweets in support and against the campaign. At present, I can only find two articles about the funding cut, a handful of links to men’s rights sites, and slightly more tweets.
In short, people care more about an ad campaign than sexually abused men and boys. That comes as no surprise, yet it is still astonishing.
Survivors UK has already felt the impact:
Michael May, Director of Survivors UK says he feels “utterly betrayed” by the Mayor’s decision to slash his funding to nothing.
“In July of last year, a review showed that one of four primary areas where the Mayor wasn’t reaching its statutory obligations was the assault of men,” he says.
“On 31st March, our funding came to an end. Since then, they have not shown any appetite for funding male services at all.
“I felt hopeless and disappointed. For the last six years I’ve asked them what they are doing to support male victims of violence and they have never, ever answered me in any direct way, other than to say they have no money.
“We’ve had to close our group therapy because we can’t afford to fund it. On an individual therapy level, we’ve had to turn people away and put them on a waiting list.
“We have 40 people in our service and we cannot let any more in until others leave. In the last month, we’ve had 18 referrals. That’s growing every day. Yet we have to reject them. It’s heartbreaking.”
This is usually where the feminists come in to blame t”The PatriarchyTM” for the situation. Unfortunately for feminists, their group appears partly responsible:
“I feel utterly, utterly betrayed,” says May. “Eight years ago, the Labour party came up with the Violence Against Women cross-party action plan, which was an amazing piece of legislation.
“But I said to ministers – including Harriet Harman – ‘can we not just say it’s for women and children?’ and they said, ‘absolutely not: it has to say women and girls because that’s the strategy’.
“So we have a situation where there is a ‘violence against women and girls’ strategy, but not one that includes men [or boys].”
May notes that male victims make up at least 15% of the victims reported, yet press reports never mention them. This gives the impression that male victims simply do not matter. The funding cut proves this.
These services are not about politics. They are not about silencing women. They are about providing help to those who need it. As one man mentioned:
“Without help from organisations like Survivors, I’d probably be dead,” [John Lennon] says. “I felt worthless and was suicidal but they gave me hope. They give a silent, shamed minority a vital voice.”