Grant funding awarded to support survivors of sexual abuse in Suffolk

Following a grant competition run by the Ministry of Justice in 2018, 79 rape support centres across

Following a grant competition run by the Ministry of Justice in 2018, 79 rape support centres across England and Wales have been awarded funding for 2019-2022 Picture: GETTY/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Support services for survivors of sexual violence have secured almost half-a-million pounds of funding for the next three years.

Suffolk Rape Crisis and Survivors in Transition are among 79 centres to gain Ministry of Justice funding up to 2022 - receiving £86,520 and £63,000, respectively, for each of the next three years.

For Suffolk Rape Crisis, it represents a 1% government funding increase against a 50% annual rise in women receiving counselling - from 195 to 293.

Director Amy Roch said: "It's a big chunk of our funding and we're really pleased to have the stability to focus on meeting the needs of women coming to us.

"We're seeing ever increasing demand for support from a broad range of women who have experienced sexual violence at any point in the lives."

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The service has also seen an increase in self-referrals from outside criminal justice system.

Fiona Ellis, founder of Survivors In Transition, which will receive central government funding for the first time, said the money would be used to increase trauma therapy, group provision, and staff capacity to cope more effectively with increasing demand for services.

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She added: "The fact that it is multi-year funding is most welcome. We anticipate this will have a positive effect on waiting times and also geographical expansion."

In a trend reflected by most forces, Suffolk police recorded 28% more serious sexual offences in the last 12 months than on average over three years, with 5.6% of crimes solved and a third of victims not supporting action.

Ms Roch said the constabulary had shown commitment to improving performance, with charities actively contributing to analysis of investigations on the Rape Scrutiny Panel, but added that some victims were being failed by outdated legislation.

A petition recently called for a review of laws allowing defence teams to access counselling notes in sexual offence trials. In some cases, victims have been advised not to seek counselling until the conclusion of the trial.

"Victims shouldn't have to choose between getting support and getting justice," said Ms Roch.

"There should, at least, be better guidance in the system."

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Tim Passmore, who will receive £813,746 from a £68m pot to fund services for victims of crime, including £60,622 for child sexual abuse victims, said: "These two organisations do fantastic work across the county and every penny makes a huge difference.

"This extra MoJ money will complement the £60,000 funding that I have allocated to each of them this year."

In each of the last five years, the PCC has also allocated £500,000 of the MoJ grant to the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor service. More recently, he and his Norfolk counterpart used it to fund a joint Victim Care service.

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