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Tuesday 27 March 2012

New Cheshire service for victims of rape and sexual assault


A new specialist and comprehensive service providing high quality care for victims of rape and sexual assault is now available to children, young people and adults living in the Cheshire area.

Established in 2011 for police referrals, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for Cheshire is being delivered by the St Mary’s SARC in Manchester together with Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC).  St Mary’s SARC will provide forensic examinations for adults and children of all ages while RASASC will provide aftercare services for those aged 13 and over including counselling, support and access to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who provides support through the criminal justice system.  Aftercare services for the under 13s will be provided by St Mary’s SARC.  The service is now open for self-referrals.

St Mary’s SARC provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic and aftercare service to victims of rape or sexual assault, whether this has happened recently or in the past.  The service is available to adults and children who can access a team of experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience in advising, supporting and treating people who have been raped or sexually assaulted.  People can access the Centre via the police or they contact the Centre directly and make an appointment. The Centre is located within the St Mary’s Hospital site on Oxford Road, Manchester.

RASASC is a Cheshire based service, which supports people affected by any form of sexual violence.  Services available include counselling; ISVA support; groupwork; young people’s services; confidence building courses; advice, information and advocacy.

The new SARC for Cheshire is the result of discussions between key agencies as to how best to provide high quality care and services to victims of rape and sexual assault living in the area.  The service is funded jointly between the police, local authorities and primary care trusts.

Susan Forster, Chair of the Cheshire SARC Commissioning Group, said: “There is no doubt that we are now providing the best quality and standards of care for people living in Cheshire who require these services. Now these services are in place we can be sure that victims are benefiting from the knowledge and experience of experts working in this field.”

Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, Dave Whatton, said: "The support and care for survivors of rape and sexual offences is absolutely vital to both their recovery and an opportunity to gather the best possible evidence to support a prosecution. By working together we are now able to provide some of the best care and support in the country."

Bernie Ryan, St Mary’s Centre Manager, said: “Since the Cheshire SARC service opened we have seen a total of 146 cases and had an extremely positive response, not just from Cheshire residents but also from the partners that have helped develop and fund the service.

“We continue to work closely with our partners in Cheshire to ensure victims’ needs are being met and that the experience of the service is a positive one for all those involved.”

Julie Evans, Operations Manager, RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside, commented: “We are delighted to be part of this innovative approach to delivering SARC services in Cheshire.  A total of 132 referrals have been made to us from St Mary’s since the service started in April.

“We are confident that this service will mean that people will be able to access the best quality care and support immediately following a rape or sexual assault.”

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