2018 GSK IMPACT Awards: RSVP (Rape and Sexual Violence Project)

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Part of GSK IMPACT Awards

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  • Posted:Thursday 17 May 2018

RSVP is the only specialist centre for rape and sexual violence victims of all genders and ages in Birmingham and Solihull. Its core counselling service opens seven days a week, providing counselling for survivors and anyone supporting survivors. It works to support all sections of the community, having specialist services for children, LGBT communities and refugees. It also trains professionals.

What stood out about RSVP is that it reaches into all parts of the community and has coped with a big increase in demand for its services, whilst continuing to deliver high-quality services for the people it supports.

GSK IMPACT Awards judging panel

Video transcript

When I was at primary school the headmaster abused myself and many others and we were interviewed by the police as children; the headmaster left, never heard anything else. Then out of the blue in February 2015 got a Facebook message from an old primary school friend; it was a bit of a sledgehammer, shall we say. 

Approximately 85,000 women across England and Wales have been raped each year and 12,000 men. RSVP is a rape crisis charity, we support people across the whole of Birmingham and Solihull. Some of the communities that we serve are the LGBT community, disabled survivors, refugees and asylum seekers, children, adults who have been affected by any form of sexual trauma.

I had an arranged marriage, a few months into the relationship he was very abusive, very controlling. I had to escape. 

Survivors can receive up to 24 weeks of counselling. We also offer ten weeks of counselling to the supporters of survivors, partners, their parents, their family and friends and we do that because we recognise the global impact that sexual trauma can have on an individual. Some of our services are available seven days a week. 

It is estimated that 15% of people report to the police after sexual offences, that means it’s the vast majority of people who don’t feel able to. 

I was extremely afraid of who to reach out to, if I wanted this to be looked at I would have to report it to the police and that was the thing that I was most afraid of. 

The ISVA service, that stands for the Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy, for some people they’re very sure that they want to report to the police so we would assist them in doing that. 

At RSVP we’re experiencing a 40% increase. From April 2016 to March 2017 we supported 820 adults and 220 children through the ISVA service. 

I have never been to court before, my ISVA was literally sat right… you could touch them. So it felt safe. Without their support I would not have been able to be on the witness stand and feel empowered. 

Anybody that is either currently a client of RSVP or has been in the past can attend the free legal clinic.

Last year we trained over 900 professionals on all sorts of aspects of sexual violence and abuse. We work closely with the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust with their umbrella contract which is offering sexual health services across the whole of Birmingham and Solihull. 

RSVP have been key in encouraging us to understand what it’s like to sit in the other seat in that consultation room and I think that type of training, where they clearly understand from a survivor’s viewpoint, has been very important for our service. 

The West Midlands Police Crime Commissioner is one of our funders. We work very closely with them.

Having a partnership with people like RSVP gives us an opportunity to work with the real experts on the ground. On our victims commission they have been helping form and shape some of the other victims work that we do right across the West Midlands. Great organisation, doing great work and helping others to succeed as well. 

It was so refreshing to know that there are people who support you regardless of wherever you’re from. It was the best decision I ever made.

I feel very fortunate I was able to have my say on the witness stand and to finally be believed and not judged was priceless.