Providing support to victims of sexual violence
The project places specialist support workers in health settings to provide immediate support to anyone who discloses recent or historic experiences of sexual violence and to provide access to further support through other local services.
Working with Blackpool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Commissioner’s Office secured funding for this project through the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls Fund. Specialist support workers have since been placed in both Blackpool and Blackburn hospitals with plans to expand the project further in 2019.
Clive Grunshaw said: “The work that is being done here to support victims of sexual violence is fantastic. Interestingly many of the people who have received support had not spoken to anyone about what happened to them previously and would not have had any help had it not been for this project.
“Supporting victims is a key priority for me and it is through projects like this that we can make a real difference to people and ensure that they can access the support that they need and deserve to help them come to terms with what has happened.”
Julie Vigo-Saunders who is the Health Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Co-ordinator at Blackpool Hospital Trust added: “Since I have started this role I have worked hard to make sure that departments across the hospital as well as health services in the community know that I am here and how they can refer patients to me.
“I now receive referrals from A&E, hospital wards, GPs and health visitors. It is really rewarding to see referrals coming in and to be able to help people who have experience rape or sexual assault to ensure they get the support they need to deal with what happened.
“We have close links with Lancashire Victim Services and ensure that anyone affected is referred to receive ongoing support through this or other local services if they need it.”
Since Julie started in post in June 2018 she has received close to 100 referrals and also helped to replicate the success of the project in Blackburn Hospital where she supervises the Health ISVA post which was established in February 2019.
As part of his visit Mr Grunshaw also met the wider team involved in bidding for the project funding and in rolling it out to other Lancashire NHS Trusts.
Hazel Gregory, Head of Safeguarding at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals said: “We are delighted to be in this privileged position to offer support to victims across Lancashire. The early data and outcomes are clearly demonstrating the value.”