News

The Western Isles Rape Crisis Centre (WIRCC) is based in Stornoway and offers free, confidential support, information and advocacy to anyone - of any gender - over the age of 13, who has been affected by sexual violence. The service covers the whole of the Outer Hebrides including the southern isles, with specialist Survivors of Childhood Abuse support workers based in both Uist and Stornoway. Sexual violence is defined as any kind of sexual activity or act (including online or via phone) that is unwanted or involves any kind of pressure, manipulation, bullying, intimidation, threat, deception or force. In other words, any type of sexual activity that takes place without consent. 

WIRCC offers support in a number of different ways. Trained staff members can provide one-to-one support in a private, discreet setting, or by phone or video call. They are completely non-judgemental and will not urge people to talk about anything they don't wish to, or are not ready to, discuss. They can support survivors through an immediate crisis or longer term if required, and whether the abuse is taking place now or has happened at any point in the past. Support is also offered to anyone worried about a child, someone in their family or someone else they know. 

Through the National Advocacy Project, WIRCC can offer advocacy support at every stage of the criminal justice procedure, from thinking about reporting a sexual offence, right through to resolution of a court case. Their advocacy worker will never try to persuade someone to report or otherwise, but will support individuals whatever they decide to do. If a case does go ahead, WIRCC can help to get updates on its progress, provide information about special measures and may be able to attend court with a survivor.

There are also various women's groups taking place at WIRCC, for both support and well-being, such as creative arts, yoga and women's drop-in sessions. These are open to all women in the area, not just those accessing support services - the aim being to create safe spaces for women to come together, reduce social isolation and have the opportunity to find out more about available services. 

If you are looking for support, the WIRCC helpline is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm: 01851 70 9965. If your call is not answered, please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Outwith these times, the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open from 5pm to midnight, daily: 08088 01 03 02, or you can text 07537 410 027 for initial contact and signposting.

You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Do you have any items from the community equipment store that you no longer need? If so, please contact your local CES store on the numbers below to arrange free collection:

Lewis & Harris CES Store - 01851 70 3054

Uist & Barra CES Store - 01870 603 648

The Volunteer Centre Western Isles is currently looking for people to volunteer with Victim Support Scotland, who offer guidance, emotional support and practical assistance to anyone in Scotland affected by crimes, including victims, witnesses and their families.

Anybody over the age of 18 and living in the Outer Hebrides can apply. Victim Support Scotland are flexible, and can help you fit in your hours around student timetables, work, family and personal commitments. 

To find out more, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.victimsupport.scot/volunteertoday.

With International Women's Day just around the corner - on Friday the 8th of March - there are a number events taking place in the Outer Hebrides to mark the occasion.

Western Isles Rape Crisis Centre (WIRCC) are holding an Agency Drop-in Day on Friday, inviting all local agencies and partners to pop in between 12.30 and 3pm for an informal chat about the work they do, have a spot of lunch and a look around their centre. If you are interested in attending, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

On Saturday the 9th, Western Isles Women's Aid and the Western Isles Violence Against Women Partnership invite members of the community to join them for a short walk in the Castle Grounds  followed by hot drinks and cake at their centre in Bayhead. They will be setting off at 10am from the YM Bridge in Stornoway and the event will conclude at 11.30am.

Following this, there will be a Women's Open Day at WIRCC, in association with Safer Outer Hebrides, from 12 to 3pm. All women are invited to come along and enjoy a free taster massage, creative arts drop-in and a delicious light lunch. Crèche facilities are being provided free of charge (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book).

And in Barra, also on the 9th of March, there is an International Women's Day event taking place at Castlebay school from 9.30am to 4.15pm. Workshops include woodwork, yoga, zumba, meditation, fun singing and lots more! Free childcare will be provided on the day.

Acair Books are celebrating International Women's Day with the publication, on the 8th, of 'Women of the Hebrides, Ban-eileanaich Innse Gall - Stories of Strength and Courage', by Joni Buchanan, described by journalist and writer, Cathy Macdonald, as "A glorious account of the real 'influencers' of our shared island culture".  Available to order here: acairbooks.com.  A special launch event is taking place on Friday at 7pm in the Stornoway town hall, where Agnes Rennie and the author will discuss the book and her journey to write it.

 

After a spate of suspected drink-spikings (when someone is given alcohol or drugs without their knowledge) in Stornoway in recent weeks, members of the community are urged to take extra care of themselves and friends when out and about this festive season.

This following advice is from nationwide charity Change Grow Live:

"Being spiked isn’t something to feel guilty or ashamed about. The experience can be scary and affect your physical and mental health, but it is never your fault. Spiking often happens in bars and clubs, but it can happen in other places too, like parties and other social events.  

Everyone should feel safe to enjoy themselves without worrying about being spiked. Here are our tips and advice for keeping yourself and others safe, and what to do if you think someone has been spiked.  

How to tell if someone has been spiked

It’s not always easy to spot the signs and symptoms of spiking because they’re similar to being very drunk. But it can be helpful to look out for the following: