Shocked MPs have promised to rally round and fight for the future of a rape counselling service hit by a massive funding crisis.
The service says there are already more than 120 people on the waiting list – and some may have to wait up to two years, or not get help at all.
Colne Valley MP Thelma Walke r and Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman both said they would contact West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (WYPCC) Mark Burns-Williamson, and home secretary Amber Rudd, to raise concerns.
Mrs Walker said: “No one who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault should be left without support. This service provides an invaluable lifeline to my constituents in the Colne Valley.
“With increased pressures, the service is in need of more funding not less. People cannot be expected to wait two years to receive help.”
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: “These centres are absolutely crucial and need to be maintained. I will be talking to other MPs in our area and if there’s a serious funding threat we must find out how we can save it. This has come as a complete shock.”
Heather Cooper, chief executive of the Huddersfield-based service, said: “We are going to lose three counsellors and some of the helpline hours.
“In the last year we have been offering services to Calderdale residents as they didn’t have anywhere to refer to.
“At the moment I just think it’s dreadful because there is so much demand for our services and it takes a lot of courage to reach out and talk about heinous crimes.
“To be told there’s no service is very demoralising.
Ms Cooper said her team wanted to remain positive about the £1m lottery funding the service had received over the past nine years - but this will end on May 18.
The only funding the service receives is £84,000 from the Ministry of Justice, and £59,000 from the WYPCC which pays for two independent sexual violence advisors.
She said: “We are not funded locally by Kirklees Council or the Central Commissioning Group as their budgets don’t have funds for survivors of sexual violence recovery services.
“Rape and sexual abuse is prevalent in our society and every day in the news there are new disclosures of it happening in sport, Hollywood, or closer to home, Rotherham, and Huddersfield.
“Reporting is going up but funding isn’t.
“Survivors of rape and sexual abuse are already a marginalised group of people. We worry about who they can turn to when they make the brave decision to disclose the crime committed against them if specialist services like ours are unable to help.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire said: “We very much understand and appreciate the value of the Kirklees and Calderdale Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre service and as such the PCC is continuing to provide funding them for 2018/19.
“We do recognise that there are wider issues with funding this service and we will be working with Kirklees and Calderdale Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre and partners to see what can be done to ensure these important services are provided to people who need them into the future.”
Anyone who can help is asked to contact the service on 01484 540730.