Hell of a week for Wellington Rape Crisis

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 17:04 20/08/2012

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The Wellington Rape Crisis centre is back to operating five days a week, due in part to a donation from Hell Pizza after its latest public relations controversy.

Last week, the Willis St centre began closing its doors on Fridays due to funding shortages.

But today, Wellington Rape Crisis agency manager Natalie Gousmett said that would be reversed immediately after the community stumped up $55,000 in donations over the last seven days.

"A big part of this fundraising success has been the dollar-for-dollar pledge by Hell Pizza for donations to our Fundy site but we have also received donations from over 550 individuals,'' she said.

On Friday, Hell Pizza said it would give the cash-strapped organisation $10,000 after a Facebook post describing a scene of sexual abuse led to complaints.

Although the post was quickly taken down, screen grabs were sent around the internet.

Hell has since apologised and said its staff will undergo sexual violence awareness training to avoid further incidents.

It also offered to match any donations until the end of the month.

Gousmett said meeting the agency's $55,000 target meant it could continue to operate five days a week for the rest of this financial year.

But it would likely find itself in similar deficit next year unless the government did something about its ''chronic underfunding'' of the sexual violence sector, she said.

''In the meantime we will continue to rely on donations and fundraising to deliver our core services.''

''Wellington Rape Crisis staff, governance and volunteers want to say a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us.''

The agency costs about $310,000 a year to run. It receives about $77,000 in funding from the government annually and generates the remainder through fundraising.

The agency had 995 client contacts during the 2011-2012 financial year.

Contact Michael Forbes
Email: michael.forbes@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @michael_forbes

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- The Dominion Post

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