Charity launches child abuse helpline as need becomes ‘more pressing’
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A Suffolk charity has launched a new service for teenagers and young adults who have experience any form of abuse.
The new online and freephone service for young people aged 13 and over has been launched by Ipswich based charity Survivors In Transition (SiT).
The service, called ‘Tope’, is operated by specialist practitioners from 9am to 9pm daily, with a web chat facility from 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday.
Fiona Ellis, co-founder and chief executive of SiT, said the new self-referral service, made possible through funding from Hopkins Homes, was open to young people who had not yet reported their abuse.
The service can be accessed anonymously, if preferred.
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Ms Ellis added: “We are working closely with Fresh Start new beginnings to ensure those who have reported continue to be supported by them and there is a seamless pathway between our services.
“Tope will be operated by SiT but maintain its own identity, separate from the day to work at SiT.
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“We have been thinking about the service for some time and became aware that, particularly through the lockdown period, this was becoming a more pressing issue for young people at home, without the usual channels to disclose, such as school and other organised activities.”
SiT was established by Ms Ellis and Clare Wilson in 2010.
Since then, the charity has provided support for men and women who have survived child sexual abuse.
In its first decade, SiT was contacted by 3,123 people.
Last week, figures released by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) showed that the number of children suffering sexual abuse in Suffolk had risen from 444 in 2014/15 to 1,156 last year – an increase of 160%.
The NSPCC said the number of Childline counselling sessions for youngsters abused by family members had risen during lockdown.
The charity found that police forces in the East of England had recorded an average of 23 child sexual offences a day last year.
Police said more resources than ever were being directed to deal with reports.
To learn more about Tope, visit tope.org.uk. The helpline can be reached on 0808 168 1154 or via WhatsApp on 07375 296229.