PAYING the living wage is an issue of equality for Wellbeing Scotland, a charity working with individuals and families whose lives have been affected by childhood abuse or other trauma.
The charity works with many survivors whose opportunities in life are limited due to the impact of their experiences. They often work in minimum-wage jobs, which also affects their self-esteem and well-being.
“The inequality they face made us fully committed to being a living wage accredited employer,” said chief executive Janine Rennie. “We employ many young people, including those with disabilities and mental health issues, who come to us through the Community Jobs Scotland scheme, with many staying with the organisation at the end of their placement.
“We value the young people we recruit and we feel it is important they are paid the living wage.”
She added: “We see the effect on the lives of the people we offer support to of not feeling valued and respected, of living on very low incomes with the impact of poverty further affecting their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
“The inequalities in society are very destructive to well-being, and over the years we have worked with increasing numbers of people struggling to cope with surviving on a low income. We are committed to offering a living wage to ensure that we can model good practice in the hope that others will follow.”
Wellbeing Scotland was originally established as Open Secret, working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Over the years the work has expanded to offer help for those who have suffered all types of abuse. There are specialist services for people abused in care, people with mild to moderate mental health problems, and people at risk of exploitation.
The organisation actively campaigns for the rights of survivors to equality and justice and the service is delivered across Scotland offering counselling, advocacy, informal support, group work, campaigning, prevention work, art therapy, play therapy and befriending. Training and development services are offered to other organisations, and the charity organises an annual conference to raise awareness of the issues for survivors.
Wellbeing Scotland is the largest organisation in Scotland working with survivors of childhood abuse of all ages. It has been actively involved through the In Care Survivors Service Scotland to ensure that survivors of abuse in care achieve access to justice through the national inquiry and changes to the time bar law that was recently passed.
The charity has retained the specialist abuse branch, Open Secret, as a campaigning and fundraising arm for all survivors, and people using the service are actively involved in both.
Janine said: “The mascot of Open Secret is the elephant in the room to challenge the way that society does not want to look at the extent and nature of abuse. The people working for us are vital in ensuring that we achieve our vision.”
Elisha Kimani, Finance/HR Manager of the charity, added: “We are committed to developing and valuing the people who work for us as they are such a key part of the success of our service. Without our skilled and dedicated team we could not deliver the quality of services that we provide. By providing the living wage we show our team that we respect them and their contribution to the work.”