A PIONEERING scheme which helps children who have witnessed domestic abuse is at risk of being axed due to funding cuts.

The children experiencing domestic abuse recovery (CEDAR) programme in South Lanarkshire helps hundreds of children and their parents every year.

Last week the Herald on Sunday told of the experiences of a 10-year-old Scottish schoolgirl, who had witnessed years of abuse against her mother and was helped to cope by the programme.

From January, children like her may not be able to receive the specialist support they need due to a lack of funding for the scheme, which was previously provided by the big lottery fund.

South Lanarkshire Women's Aid, which runs the programme in their area, are now desperately looking for other ways to secure £130,000 funding for the scheme beyond January - when the current cash runs out.

Heather Russell, CEO of South Lanarkshire Women's Aid said current government promises around tackling adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) could be seen as "tokenistic" if vital programmes such as CEDAR are axed.

She said: "If we are unable to get core funding for this work, whether through the authority or at a national level, then the conversations and guarantees are just tokenistic.

"We have been talking to folk in government and asking if there is any core funding we can tap into, and in our local authority as well. The problem is with the local authority, we know we are asking for money from an organisation which has none itself.

"Its not lost on me the pain that South Lanarkshire council have gone through themselves with cuts. Its frustrating our money has been cut but its pointless shouting at the local authority. You go in to meetings and there are entire floors of staff who have been decimated."

Ms Russell added that government pledges to improve the attainment gap, address poverty and help children from the most troubled backgrounds does not always translate to funding for services providing the support.

She explained: "We need to join the dots between the high level strategy conversations to the reality of resources. Otherwise It reads as a really good academic achievement, or in a bounded copy of a strategy document sat on a shelf.

"There is recognition that domestic abuse affects children and young people in their own right, there’s really good work about appreciating ACEs and we work to the Getting It Right For Every Child strategy, where we are all responsible for every child in Scotland. These are really high-achieving aspirations. We look so shiny, and that's great.

"Nicola Sturgeon says all the right things and it is really empowering. You sit in work and feel empowered by what has been said then you look at every month that goes by that doesn’t equate to support to give staff members more than a one year contract or any security to deliver a programme.

"If cedar falls for us just now,we will still keep fighting to get funding to set it up again but we will have lost two specialist service workers,a full project which will take years to start up all over again.

"The frustration is real. It is a ridiculous state of affairs."

A Scottish Government spokesman said:"It is vital those who have experienced domestic abuse have access to the right support.

“As part of the Equality budget we have invested £12 million per annum to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls, this includes £5.6 million to support local projects and frontline services support women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.

“Our Equally Safe delivery plan commits to review how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence are commissioned and funded, and how we can ensure quality and sustainability of service.”