Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Service for young sexual abuse victims opens following support from police

A new service for young people who have been the victim of sexual abuse is now available in the north of Lancashire, following support from police.

The Birchall Trust charity, which provides counselling for those who have been raped or sexually abused, is now able to offer the service after receiving £200,000 worth of funding from the Ministry of Justice.

The trust was successful in its bid for the cash after it received the backing of Lancashire Constabulary officers, who have worked closely with the charity over the past few years.

The charity will now be able to offer special dedicated sessions, which will include play and art therapy, for children and young people at their rooms in Lancaster.

“Victims of rape or sexual abuse are given the full support of our officers after a crime has been reported to us," says Detective Inspector Jo Dent, Lancaster CID. "This level of support continues if an offender is caught and the case then goes through the court process.

“The Birchall Trust is able to add an additional level of support, through their counselling and therapy sessions, to those who are referred to them. This has now been bolstered further by the funding which they have received and which will now be used to focus on young victims.“

Previously known as the South Cumbria Rape and Abuse Service, the charity's new name was chosen in March 2010 to honour its founder member, the late Christine Birchall who founded the service in 1991. It is also a name that service users feel more comfortable with.

During the first year of the service counselling was provided to five individuals. Since then, the Trust has received hundreds of referrals and have continued to expand to meet demand to support male and female adults, children and young people who are survivors of rape, sexual abuse and/or incest. The sexual abuse can be recent or historic.

"We are so pleased to be able to provide services in north Lancashire," said a spokesperson for the Birchall Trust. "Our specialist counselling service supports survivors of rape and sexual abuse, whether the abuse is recent or historic and whatever their age. By having a space for play and art therapy we can support children and young people in different ways that help them express their feelings.

“Often it is difficult to put the abuse they have suffered into words; play and art can help with communication, especially for young children - so being able to refurbish and now use this room in Lancaster is great. The support of the police, and Detective Inspector Jo Dent in particular has been invaluable, especially to secure the funds we needed. This is a crime that often leaves the victim feeling alone and that they have no voice - we hope they see they are not alone and to give them back their voice."

• The Birchall Trust can reached by telephoning 01229 820828 or email info@birchalltrust.org.uk. Calls are treated in confidence and with respect, the staff are there to help and support.

• More about the Birchall Trust at: www.birchalltrust.org.uk

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