New free service to support victims of sexual assault
A new free service has been commissioned for Staffordshire, which will help victims of sexual assault and abuse – and their family members and partners – recover from the impact of the crime and the harm they have experienced.
The tailored, confidential service forms part of an integrated system of effective support at each stage of the criminal justice process, from thevictim reporting the crime or recognising they need support, through to them exiting the service.
It is designed to be accessible, simple to navigate and prevents victims having to repeat their story on multiple occasions.
Commissioned by Staffordshire Commissioner Matthew Ellis with an investment of £300,000 per year for the next two years, the free service will be delivered by Staffordshire Women’s Aid, in collaboration with providers Pathway, Victim Gateway and Savana.
Mr Ellis said: ‘It is vital that victims of sexual assault and abuse can get the effective support they need, when they need it.
‘This new service ensures victims are at the very heart of the criminal justice process, providing essential emotional and practical support to them and their families in a way that is tailored to their individual circumstances and needs.’
The new service will be open to males and females from the age of four, and will offer:
· A ‘cope and recover’ specialist support service for victims, including tailored advice, guidance, information, practical and emotional support and group work
· A counselling service for victims to support empowerment, resilience, risk reduction and recovery
· A support service for victims’ close family members and significant others
· Geographically based staff to ensure coverage across the county
· Onward referrals to other specialist support agencies.
The service will operate across Staffordshire (not including Stoke-on-Trent) from 1 October, with an opportunity for a further two 12-month extensions after the initial two years.
Dickie James, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Women’s Aid, said: ‘We are so very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Commissioner in taking this new service for victims of sexual assault and abuse forward.
‘It is an important investment which conveys the message that sexual abuse and violence is not acceptable, and that victims have a right to a specialist service. Our service will reach out to adults and children across Staffordshire, providing specialist support to enable them to cope and recover, as well as supporting their family members.
‘I am proud that Staffordshire Women’s Aid will be working alongside the Commissioner and other partners to achieve this.’
Supporting Victims and Witnesses is one of five key priorities included within the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Safer, Fairer and United Communities Strategy (2017-2020).