More than £100,000 of extra funding has been secured by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner to support victims of sexual violence.
Jane Kennedy has been awarded the additional Ministry of Justice funding to enhance and increase the region’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service supporting survivors of rape and sexual violence over the next two years until April 2022.
ISVAs are specially trained to provide tailored support, advice and care to victims and survivors to help them cope and recover in the aftermath of these crimes. They act as the link between the police, support services and criminal justice agencies, helping victims to get the justice they deserve while supporting them through the court process.
The Commissioner applied for the extraordinary funding on behalf of the charities RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside, which she has jointly commissioned since 2015 to deliver the pan-Merseyside Victim Care Merseyside service providing specialist aftercare support to victims of rape and sexual violence. After the PCC’s initial bid in January was rejected, she re-submitted the application to the Ministry of Justice, and it has now been confirmed she has been allocated a total of £109,400 which will be split between the two organisations.
Jane said: “When victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence have the courage to speak out about their experiences and seek support they deserve the very best possible care.
“I’m proud to work with RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside, who do a tremendous job delivering the Victim Care Merseyside aftercare support service for people who have been subjected to such traumatic and horrific crimes. The support they provide is essential in helping survivors to cope and recover and it requires a high degree of specialist training.
“ISVAs are on the frontline of this work and unfortunately, their caseloads can be worryingly high, with some trying to provide support for up to 60 survivors at any one time. This very welcome injection of funds will help to ensure more victims can access the specialist emotional and practical support ISVAs are trained to provide.
“While there is no doubt this additional money is timely and appreciated, support services for victims of sexual violence are still desperately under-funded after years of austerity. I will continue to lobby central government to provide long-term ring-fenced funding to ensure every person who has been a victim of rape or sexual violence can be guaranteed ISVA support.”
RASA Merseyside’s Finance & Strategic Development Manager Josephine Wood MBE said: “We are delighted to receive this additional funding for our ISVA service. It will allow us to employ an additional 1.5 ISVAs which will greatly reduce the strain on the RASA ISVA service.
“We aim to give every survivor of rape or other form of sexual violence a bespoke, personal care and support package but with so many survivors seeking our support, the demand has often lead to unacceptable waiting times. This additional funding will relieve that situation.”
RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside’s Director of Operations Julie Evans said: “We are delighted to be able to receive additional funding to enhance our much needed service. We have restarted our face to face work and urge anyone who needs support around their experience of sexual violence to contact us.
RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside are jointly commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner to jointly deliver a single aftercare support service for survivors of sexual violence the whole of Merseyside.
RASA Merseyside provide services for the Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral areas, while RASASC cover Knowsley and St Helens.
Find out more about their services here: