New website helps survivors of sexual violence

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A new NHS-backed website has been launched that will provide a digital directory of services in North West England for survivors of sexual violence.

www.sexualviolencesupport.co.uk is now live and features a postcode search which allows users to seek out the nearest services.

Also on the website are downloadable Survivor Support Packs, which have been designed in collaboration with survivors, and provide all the information you need to know around the definitions of sexual violence crimes, information for parents/carers on supporting children, or how to have open conversations at home, and a simplified 15-step summary for the ‘report to court’ process. It also serves as a really useful toolkit for people such as GPs.

Becky Johnston (pictured right), NHS England-funded Sexual Violence Communication and Engagement Manager, has a unique role working in collaboration with North West Police Crime Commissioners and various sexual assault and abuse services, and commissioned the website. Becky works to raise awareness of the support services available, encourage collaboration between organisations and consequently improve the user journey of a survivor when they are looking for help.Becky Johnston

She said: “Until now, if a survivor was to look for support online, the information can be confusing and overwhelming.

“There are loads of support organisations out there but it’s hard to know which one is specifically commissioned for the area you live in. You could contact an organisation then be referred onto another, then another - a process which when speaking to some survivors has been described as a deterrent for seeking support.

“This new website acts as a digital directory of services and by inputting your postcode it tells you exactly what service or services are available to you and how to access them.

“A lot of people assume that if they don’t report to the police that they cannot access support, whereas in fact they can not only self-refer and receive counselling, but also have a medical forensic examination via a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Evidence can then be held in case they ever decide to change their mind about reporting it in the future.”

Among the resources on the website is a collection of survivor stories and their experiences, and a selection of thought-provoking pieces on recent topics as well as professional profiles of people whose job involves supporting survivors.

There is also a collection of upcoming campaigns, resources, toolkits, and awareness-raising events across the region.

Following the launch of the website, attention will turn to the launch of the inaugural NW Sexual Violence Awareness Week in November, as well as a series of campaigns that specifically target systematically under-represented demographics.

During the week (Monday 8 November to Sunday 14 November 2021) there will be a designated day per county when each area will be hosting an event that highlights the services in that area. More details are set to be announced in the coming weeks.

View the Sexual Violence Support website at www.sexualviolencesupport.co.uk and follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter via @NWSVweek.