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Gloucestershire Business News

OPCC secures £40k to fund support for victims of sexual violence

Victims of sexual violence in Gloucestershire can benefit from enhanced local support, thanks to £40,000 of NHS England funding, secured by Gloucestershire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

NHS England invited the OPCC to bid for funding following a national rise in incidents of sexual violence in homes, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. NHS England is also expecting a surge of victims and survivors coming forward three to six months after lockdown lifts.

Kirsten Fruin, OPCC commissioning manager, said: "We're delighted to have secured this funding, as it will help hundreds of people across Gloucestershire, who've sadly not had the luxury of being safe while staying home.

"We hope this money will make a real difference, as they continue their incredibly important work supporting victims all over the county."

Teens in Crisis (TIC), GRASAC, Gloucestershire Counselling Service and Nelson Trust will each receive £10,000. Both TIC and Gloucestershire Counselling Service will each use the money to provide 180 therapeutic sessions; GRASAC will increase its ICT facilities and hire more staff to work on its helpline; and Nelson Trust will increase staffing to help with outreach and to provide exit-planning for sex workers.

In 2014, the Ministry of Justice assigned the responsibility for commissioning victim services to Police and Crime Commissioners. In Gloucestershire, the OPCC also works closely with a range of third sector organisations through Martin Surl's Commissioner's Fund - where one per cent of the policing budget is split between local charities and support groups to help break the cycle of crime.

Since lockdown began, the OPCC has become one of the founding members of the Gloucestershire Funders Group , which provides grants to enable local charities to continue running.

Mr. Surl said: "Many of the local support charities my team works with have raised concerns about their service users not being safe at home during lockdown.

"This is another example of our commitment to all victims and, I hope, reassures them that they are not forgotten and that help is at hand if necessary."

Services to support victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse are still available in Gloucestershire, even during lockdown. There is a full list of local services available on the OPCC website .

Kate Davies, director of health and justice, Armed Forces and sexual assault services commissioning for NHS England, said: "The ambition to improve our support to the voluntary sector had always been part of the sexual assault and abuse services strategy.

"We know that the national measures introduced to delay the spread of COVID-19 are inevitably having a significant impact on those that deliver support services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse."

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