Rape and sexual abuse support services across England and Wales have been awarded increased government funding in March – totaling £24m over 3 years – to help even more victims.
Around 79 rape/sexual assault support centres are to be awarded grants – meaning there will be government-funded services in all 42 of the country’s police and crime commissioner areas.
Among the services receiving a funding boost are a national helpline and web-chat service for male victims following a significant rise in the number of men and boys coming forward to report crimes and access support.
Funding has also been extended to include those who suffered abuse while under the age of 13, in recognition that many victims of child sexual abuse may struggle to access timely support.
Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, said:
"I am pleased that for the first time, there will be, centrally funded rape support services in all parts of England and Wales. I am particularly pleased to see there will be a significant increase in male support centres."
However, campaigners have argued that this is not enough and rape survivors are as a result, not able to access the services they need.
End Violence Against Women has stated that the funding is "wholey inadequate", with co-director Sarah Green, adding:
“Today’s announcement of additional funding for life-saving rape crisis centres is welcome, but it is a long way from meeting the huge and increasing need for rape counselling and support in this country. What we need is a root and branch change in the way these services are funded so that they are sustainable and no survivor who needs help is ever turned away.”
But is it enough to tackle the problem? Well, not quite.
Any increase in funding is entirely welcome, but it is a long way from meeting the huge and increasing need for rape counselling and support in this country. It's also noteworthy that, although the report states there is now a funded service in each of the country's 42 areas, not all of them help all survivors.
The centre receiving funding in Leicester, for example, only helps women and girls - typically from cis-straight backgrounds. This bars out, not just male survivors, but also lesbian victims and those women who identify as trans from access.
It's our belief at Stay Brave that every survivor of rape and abuse should have access to help and support - and that won't be the case in these areas. We cannot truly say we are succeeding in helping victims until all of those 42 areas have services that everyone can access.
This blog was written by Rhodri Roberts, our current Acting-Chair of Stay Brave Trustee Board. He volunteers with a number of charities including the Nightline Association and spends time supporting youth initiatives.
You can read more about the Trustee Board and learn more about their role here.