First ‘friends’ sign up to Women’s Aid

The Oban Times - - NEWS - By Neill Bo Fin­layson nfin­[email protected]­

More than 40 guests joined Lochaber Women’s Aid (LWA) last Fri­day to cel­e­brate the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s 15 years of ser­vice.

Dis­plays in Dun­cans­burgh MacIn­tosh Church Hall gave statis­tics about the use of the ser­vice over the years and in­volved part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions which work along­side LWA. The ex­hi­bi­tion in­cluded per­sonal ac­counts from women, chil­dren and young peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic abuse. Vis­i­tors to the ex­hi­bi­tion were vis­i­bly moved by the dis­plays.

The af­ter­noon also saw the first re­cruits sign­ing up to be­come ‘Friends of Lochaber Women’s Aid’.

The event, for­mally opened by Kate Forbes MSP, in­cluded guest speak­ers Dr Mar­sha Scott, De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Craig Thom­son and Stephen Kennedy from McIn­tyre & Com­pany, which also de­liv­ered in­for­ma­tive panel ses­sions about the new Do­mes­tic Abuse (Scot­land) Bill and le­gal mea­sures to pro­tect and sup­port women and chil­dren af­fected by do­mes­tic abuse.

Liz Fother­ing­ham, the first women’s sup­port worker in Lochaber and now a board mem­ber of LWA, spoke with fond­ness, hu­mour and emo­tion about the tri­als and ex­pe­ri­ences of the early years of the ser­vice be­fore cut­ting a cel­e­bra­tory birth­day cake.

Karen MacInnes, chair­woman of LWA, thanked the board and staff of LWA, past and present, for their ser­vice over the 15 years but most of all wished to give praise to the ser­vice users them­selves.

Ref­er­enc­ing the re­cent fund­ing cuts made by High­land Coun­cil, Karen called on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and High­land Coun­cil to pro­vide long-term funds to safe­guard fu­ture pro­vi­sion of the ser­vice in Lochaber.

She left the au­di­ence with the ques­tion: ‘What does it say about our so­ci­ety when we are cut­ting a life­line ser­vice and leav­ing them to try to make up the dif­fer­ence with lo­cal fundrais­ing in the com­mu­nity?’

Liz Fother­ing­ham, left, the first women’s sup­port worker in Lochaber, cuts the spe­cial 15th birth­day cake and, be­low, more than 40 peo­ple vis­ited the ex­hi­bi­tions.

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