A charity which supports those affected by rape and sexual abuse is opening in Grantham.
Trust House Lincolnshire is one of 15 centres around the country which have been set up with the help of government funding.
The Grantham centre was the last to be established and will help people, often called ‘survivors’, across the county and beyond. It is hoped to set up satellite centres in other towns around the county including Stamford and Boston.
It was the coalition government which made a commitment to set up the centres. Funding from the Ministry of Justice allowed The Survivors Trust, a national umbrella agency for specialist rape and sexual violence support services, to set up the Grantham centre.
Service manager Neil Wells said: “We offer a safe space where survivors can access a range of services to help improve their health and wellbeing, regain their confidence and self-esteem and be empowered to reclaim their lives.”
A group of volunteer counsellors will offer free specialist advice.
Neil added: “The counsellors have completed our rigorous and comprehensive in-house training and we also offer a confidential phone line offering emotional support, information and referral to our counselling and support services.”
The Lincolnshire team is made up of dedicated volunteers and paid staff who have all completed training in line with strict standards set down by The Survivors Trust.
Neil says that as a result of high-profile cases in the news over recent years, not least the Jimmy Savile case, issues of rape and sexual abuse have become a “hot potato” and, following on from that, more people have come forward to talk about their experiences. He said: “Our aim is to empower people to come to the centre, seek help and go on a journey of self-healing. They are here for as long as they need to be. It may take 10 sessions to tell us what has happened. We are completely non-judgemental.”
People who will be supported by Trust House Lincolnshire need not be those who are victims of rape or sexual abuse, but may well be friends or family of those people and who, as a result, need their own support. The centre will deal with issues of historical abuse as well which, Neil says, may go back 30 years but which a survivor may only just feel now they can talk about.
The Grantham centre also provides an adult Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA), a trained specialist who provides practical and emotional support for adults who have experienced sexual abuse or exploitation. Support and advice can also be given to their families or carers.
The ISVA service is now available in Grantham. Counselling services will be up and running in about six weeks, but the Grantham centre’s helpline and office numbers are open now and being monitored.
Neil and his staff at the Grantham centre are putting the final flourishes to the building to make it welcoming and friendly for those who need its services. The terraced building in the centre of town has comfortable counselling rooms where users can feel safe and not intimidated.
Neil added: “We have been delighted with the reception from Grantham so far.
“We have been lucky enough to be named as one of the Mayor of Grantham Jacky Smith’s charities for the year and have also received a substantial donation from the Grantham Rotary Swimarathon.
“Local businesses have also been very supportive with discounts.”
The charity has vacancies for volunteers to support the helpline, for counselling and emotional support, fund-raising and administration and office duties. The charity will also welcome any donations.
For more details on vancancies and making donations call the office on 01476 579379. The Helpline number is 01476 570284.