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

NHS England and NHS Improvement invited the OPCC to bid for funding to ensure victims and survivors of sexual violence have the support they need, as the country comes out of the COVID-19 lockdown.

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 1% of the policing budget is split between local charities and support groups to help break the cycle of crime. Furthermore, since lockdown began the OPCC became 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”.

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