Over the last 5 months, 48 persons have received more than180 free services in the “Skaj Plus” Specialised Counselling Service in Strumica
A local campaign launching today will raise the awareness of the citizens of Strumica and in the entire South-Eastern Region about the free counselling services for women victims of domestic and gender-based violence provided by the first specialised Counselling Service in Strumica, “Skaj Plus”. The campaign will be conducted by the civil association “Skaj Plus” as part of the project “Providing free legal aid and psychosocial support to at least 200 women from the minority communities and vulnerable groups”, which is implemented by HERA –Health Education and Research Association and UN Women Skopje, with the funding provided by the European Union.
On the launching of the campaign, the Counselling Service was visited by Jovanka Trenčevska, Minister for Labour and Social Policy; Kosta Kostadinov, Mayor of the Municipality of Strumica; Irena Spirkovska-Lukrovska, UN Women analyst; Elizabeta Božinoska, HERA Programme Director; and Elena Jovanovska, social worker in “Skaj Plus”.
Since the opening of the Counselling Service in December, 48 women who had suffered domestic violence have received more than 180 services in psychosocial support and legal aid, free of charge. This also includes women from the rural areas, persons with disabilities and members of ethnic minorities, which only confirms that the more available the services are the more encouraged victims of violence become to seek support. At the same time, this gives a positive example of a successful cooperation of the local self-government and civil society sector in combating violence, more so because the Municipality provides the office space for the functioning of the Counselling Service.
Over the last two years, HERA has delivered a range of specialised trainings on the treatment of victims of domestic and gender-based violence, and it provides a consistent mentoring support to its partner organisation, “Skaj Plus”, which runs the Counselling Service, with the purpose of, inter alia, obtaining a licence from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. Once the licence is obtained, the Counselling Service will grow into a regional professional service providing psychosocial support not only to women victims of violence, but also to their children and family members.
Moreover, in cooperation with the Municipality of Strumica, activities have been planned for providing financial support for these services following the completion of the project. To this end, the Local Action Plan is under development, providing for a budget both for prevention against violence and for provision of direct services for domestic and gender-based violence in the region. Throughout the duration of the project, the counselling services will be provided with donor funds, and by the end of the year, and in the course of the next year, the funding will be provided by the Municipality, thus ensuring their sustainability in the future.
Promotion activities are part of the project “Providing free legal aid and psychosocial support to at least 200 women members of the minority communities and vulnerable groups”, funded by the European Union, and implemented by UN Women and HERA.