Appeal for £25k to counsel rape and sex abuse victims

thisisoxfordshire: Natalie Brook, left, manager of Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre, and Lisa Ward, training co-ordinator  Picture: OX64240 Greg Blatchford Buy this photo » Natalie Brook, left, manager of Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre, and Lisa Ward, training co-ordinator Picture: OX64240 Greg Blatchford

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to raise £25,000 to offer one-to-one counselling for victims of rape and sexual violence.

The Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre said the service is currently not provided in the county.

Manager Natalie Brook said similar services have been successful in Coventry, High Wycombe and Northampton.

The cash is needed for a counselling co-ordinator who would work with volunteers, who would deliver sessions.

Miss Brook said: “It is a huge need we have identified in Oxfordshire and it would be a new service, because it is something we are unable to do at the moment.

“We know from speaking to our service users there is a huge demand for it.

“We already run a confidential helpline, which is open four days a week, to support women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.

“But we get asked by a lot of people if we offer one-on-one counselling.

“It is one thing which women say they want and it is one thing other agencies – such as the police and health services – keep telling us they want.

“At the moment there are mostly more generic counselling services available, but the reason people contact us is because we are specialised, with lots of experience, and because we are independent and not associated with any statutory agency like the police or NHS.”

Recorded sexual offences rose from 242 during April to September in 2011 to 353, including 77 reports of rape, in the same period last year.

Miss Brook said more are seeking help in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and the Operation Bullfinch sex gang trial.

Seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years for grooming young girls in Oxford for sex with strangers.

Miss Brook said of the increase in demand: “We see that as a good thing, because these women are now looking for support and we want to be able to provide it.

“We know the long-term effects of sexual violence can be devastating for some women’s lives.

“For us it is about being able to provide a range of services that meet womens’ needs, often at difficult stages of their lives.”

s Anyone who would like the charity’s support should call 0800 783 6294 or email support@osarcc.org.uk.

More information is also available at the charity’s website oxfordrapecrisis.net

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