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Rape and sexual assault services supporting victims in Cumbria

As part of the ongoing November rape and serious sexual offenses campaign supported by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, and Cumbria Constabulary, this week both organisations are highlighting the services available to victims in the county.

Victims of rape and sexual assault can access help and support from services across Cumbria. Anyone can gain access to these services no matter how long ago the crime took place and whether the crime was reported to the Police or not. Each service offers tailored help to meet the victims wants and needs. The service user is in full control of the help they would like to receive. Available services are:

  • South: The Birchall Trust, Barrow, offers On-to-one counselling; art and play therapy; sexual abuse awareness training and Protective Behaviours Workshops to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. The service is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted on 01229 820828 and enquiries@birchalltrust.org.uk.
  • South: Women’s Community Matters, Barrow, can help with issues like domestic and sexual abuse, benefits and housing issues and mental wellbeing. They can also provide information on other services that can help you. They are open Monday 9.30am – 4pm, Tuesday 9.30am – 6pm, Wednesday 9.30am – 4pm, Thursday 9.30am – 6pm, Friday 9.30am – 1pm and can be reached on 01229 311102.
  • West: Women Out West, Whitehaven, can provide emotional support and advice on domestic abuse. They can also provide information on other services that can help you. They are open, Monday to Friday 9.30 – 2.30pm on 01946 550103.
  • North: Safety Net, Carlisle, provides counselling to survivors and help with practical issues that support recovery including family support, criminal justice and family court, employment, training, education, housing and finances. Safety Net is open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, and can be contacted by phone on 01228 515 859 or email at office@safetynetuk.org
  • North: Gateway 4 Women, Carlisle, provides support on issues like domestic abuse, mental wellbeing, homelessness, housing etc. and can also provide information on other domestic and sexual abuse services. They are open Monday – Thursday 9.30am – 4.30pm, Friday 9.30am – 1.00pm. They can be called on 01228 212090
  • Cumbria-wide: The Bridgeway offers emotional and practical support, emergency contraception and access to screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, medical examination and collection of forensic evidence, referral onto counselling and/or other support services, support in making a report to the police, if that’s what you want, follow-up support. Their helpline 0808 118 6432 can be used 24/7 or email on info@bridgeway.org.uk with all other services by appointment.
  • Cumbria-wide: Victim support Cumbria, Mon – Fri, 9am-6pm and can be reached on 0300 303 0157. The national 24/7 helpline is 0808 1689 111. Victim Support can help with any time of crime including sexual assault and rape and give advice that is completely private. Victim Support can also provide an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor who provides victims a tailored support plan to help them cope and recover. If you cannot speak, Victim Support also has a 24/7 online chat on their website, victimsupport.org.uk

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “We are raising awareness of these services as part of our month-long Rape and Serious Sexual Assault campaign in partnership with Cumbria Constabulary.

“It’s easy to think that because most of us never encounter them, that these types of crimes don’t take place in Cumbria but unfortunately they do.

“Any increase in crime is always a concern however in this situation an increase in people coming forward to report serious sexual abuse and rape is welcome.

“I think it is more likely a reflection that more people recognise the crime and have confidence to report it.

“I encourage that everyone deserves justice and nobody should have to suffer sexual or any other type of abuse.

“I would always urge anyone who experiences this type of crime to report to the Police but, for some it is difficult and I know that not everyone wants to report it which is why I commission these services in Cumbria.

“Rape and Sexual Assault can have a lasting effect on those who experience it and they need as much support as they can legally, mentally and physically.

“With support, we hope that survivors can overcome and recover from their trauma and live a positive life.

“If you have experienced rape or sexual assault please reach out to one of the services above for advice tailored to you.”

Detective Chief Inspector, constabulary lead for rape and serious sexual offences, Jenny Beattie said: “For many victims of sexual offences, going through the process of reporting the crime, the investigation and the Criminal Justice System can be emotional and confusing, but we, and a whole host of charities and agencies are here to support you.

“Campaigns such as this are vital to help increase people’s awareness of what support is available to them.

“Hopefully, but sharing this information with the pubic now, should someone find themselves the victim of a crime, they will know that support is available to help them every step of the way. These support services are available to victims regardless of whether they decided to report the crime to police or not.

“I think many people may be surprised at the number of agencies out there who can support them.

“A good place for people to start though, is Victim Support, who can put you in touch with an Individual Sexual Violence Advisor, providing victims with a consistent main point of contact throughout their journey and identifying with the individuals what support services would benefit them.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage any victim of sexual abuse or violence to report it to police.

“We understand it is difficult, but we are here to help. Your report will be taken seriously and appropriately investigated and we will work hard to bring offenders to justice.”

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