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As part of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall is supporting the new NHS campaign ‘Turn to us – We are here’, to help raise awareness of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and encourage people to start talking about support services that are available.

The campaign shines a spotlight on sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and vital NHS support services, as new data published from an England-wide survey reveals that over half of respondents (56%) who have been sexually assaulted or abused, did not seek help from any organisation or service after the incident.

Peter McCall comments: “Here in Cumbria, the sexual assault referral centre at the Bridgeway, provides services that offer specialist practical, medical and emotional support 24/7 to anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted or abused, regardless of when the incident happened.

“Sexual assault and abuse can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter when it happened and whether you choose to involve the police or not, support is available to everyone.”

“These NHS national statistics highlight the crucial need to raise awareness of sexual assault referral centres and give people the confidence to access this vital support.

“If you have been sexually assaulted or abused, whether as an adult or a young person, it is important to remember that it wasn’t your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens and I strongly urge anyone subjected to it to come forward, help is available.”

Donna Cardell, manager at The Bridgeway comments: “Some people call us straight after they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, and our trained crisis workers help to make sure they’re safe and discuss their options with them.

“We offer a self-referral choice for anyone over the age of sixteen, to come and get a forensic medical examination and also refer people to additional services that they may require to help them on their road to recovery.

“All the support we provide is confidential and non-judgmental. We are guided by what the person wants and needs at the time they contact us.”

Detective Superintendent Jenny Beattie, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “The Bridgeway provides essential support and advice to victims of rape or sexual assault.

“We work closely with the team at The Bridgeway, who provide a professional service in supporting victims and obtaining forensic evidence which can be crucial in bringing offenders to justice.

“I would encourage anyone who has been victim to any sexual offence to report this to police so we can investigate. Working in conjunction with a range of trusted services, such as The Bridgeway, we provide ongoing and appropriate support to victims whilst carrying out our investigations.”


The Bridgeway

Over-arching multi-partnered agency made up of:


  • SARC Sexual Abuse Referral Centre – forensic examination service for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse/rape/sexual assault, and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service (ISVA’s)

0808 118 6432 (available 24/7)


  • Therapeutic services and counselling – Safety Net (North and West Cumbria)

helping clients who have experienced rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse.

01228 515859 


  • Therapeutic services and counselling – Birchall Trust (South Cumbria)

helping clients who have experienced rape, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (NB not domestic abuse)



Victim Support

Support and advice provided regardless of when the crime happened or if it has been reported to the police

0300 30 30 157 (office hours)

24/7 supportline 08 08 16 89 111

Livechat 24/7 online chat for those who can’t speak over the phone




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