Boost to sexual violence services

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Victims of rape and sexual assault in North Yorkshire will be able to call a free helpline offering vital support following the launch of a new initiative tomorrow.

The Rape Support Line will be run by IDAS – an organisation which also provides refuge space and support to victims of domestic violence and will complement the existing specialist and counselling services available in York and North Yorkshire.

The move comes following an announcement earlier this year by North Yorkshire Police that work was underway to develop services to establish a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) at the existing forensic medical facility in Bishopthorpe, York. North Yorkshire is one of the few areas in the UK not to have SARC, which offers counselling, medical care and forensic examinations around the clock.

Women’s Support Network and Jigsaw chief executive Dilys Davy – who lives in Whitby – welcomed the initiative, which is supported by Community Safety Partnerships across the county. She said: “Hopefully it’s a step towards getting some really effective counselling and advocacy services set up in North Yorkshire. Obviously it would be better if there were more services on offer but I think this is a good start because we know there’s a need for sexual violence services in the area.”

The support line, which is being backed by North Yorkshire Police, is a free number run by specially-trained staff offering advice, telephone support and information to adults aged 16 and over.

The director of IDAS, Sarah Hill, said “At the moment there are some excellent specialist services in York and North Yorkshire but depending on where you live, you may not be able to access this support.

“This line will provide a free, confidential service that covers the whole county and is also able to refer on to local services.”

The line is available on 0300 111 0777 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm and Saturdays from 10am to noon.