The number of callers to our helpline almost doubled in 2015, with 954 women and girls using the helpline in 2014 and 1,861 calling in 2015.
We have already seen our new advocacy service in high demand with 30 women referred to the face-to-face support service since it launched in May this year. There has also been a 13% rise in women and girls contacting SARSVL for help via email, with 489 contacting in 2014 and 555 contacting in 2015.
SARSVL is the only specialist charity in Leeds that supports women and girls who have been affected by sexual violence of any kind at any time in their lives. We also promote survivors’ needs and rights, and campaign to end rape and sexual violence. Volunteer-led, independent, and at a time when government funding for such services is tight, SARSVL entirely relies on donations from the public and a small amount of grant funding.
One service user said: “One day I would like everything to be OK and call you just to say thanks for everything. SARSVL is the only place that tells me I have nothing to apologise for.”
Alison Boydell, Independent Sexual Violence Advocate said: “In October this year the Office for National Statistics published figures showing that rapes recorded by police in England and Wales are at their highest ever level. That shows that women and girls are feeling more confident to seek help.
“We are seeing more and more women and girls needing our support and that’s why we’d like to call on the public to make any donation they can, large or small, to help fund our vital, unique and free services.
“Our advocacy service and the helpline provide women and girls with an opportunity to get things off their chest and be listened to without judgment. What’s also so important to us is that we can help women and girls to feel empowered, understand that they haven’t done anything wrong, and know that they have the right to make decisions about their lives. Please help us to support the growing number of women and girls that need our services by making a donation.”
Support After Rape & Sexual Violence Leeds’ free-to-call, confidential emotional support helpline (0808 802 3344) is open at some point every day of the week (including all bank holidays – yes, even Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). Text 07797 803 211, email firstname.lastname@example.org and face to face support is also available. All SARSVL helpline volunteers have been specially trained to provide support to women and girls who have experience rape or sexual violence at any time in their lives.
The SARSVL advocacy service will take referrals from agencies on behalf of women over 18 who have been affected by rape or sexual violence. Potential service users may also refer themselves. As well as offering emotional support on a face-to-face basis, the advocacy service helps women to access the information and services they need, and be involved in decisions about their lives including support at meetings, exploring legal rights or options, advising on looking after physical and mental health, helping with housing options, sourcing financial support and supporting their children.
*954 contacts made from April 2013 – March 2014 and 1,861 contacts made from April 2014 – March 2015