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PCC extends funding to help meet demand for sexual abuse survivor support

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lorne Green, has increased funding for support services for sexual abuse survivors in the county.

SueLambertTrust-WEBThe PCC has doubled the funding he gives to the Sue Lambert Trust in response to demand for its services increasing significantly in the last five years.

The Sue Lambert Trust, which operates from Norwich and Great Yarmouth, with satellite services in King’s Lynn and Thetford, provides counselling, practical and emotional support to men, women and young people aged 11 and over who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault.

How the Sue Lambert Trust helps survivors cope and recover

Hazel was sexually abused as a teenager and has been receiving support and counselling from the Sue Lambert Trust for the last two years.

“When I first started to come to the Sue Lambert Trust, I was going through the motions of surviving.

What I had experienced was ‘normal’ for me – it was all I knew. I’m only now beginning to think ‘that’s not right’, to think in a different way and know it’s not my fault, that I deserve respect and I can put up boundaries.

Coming here, it’s regular, you get to see the same person, to talk without being pushed or judged. It’s so peaceful, and the caring comes out of the walls. It’s the people who make the difference.

You get to grow with your counsellor. When I came here I didn’t trust anyone. But I trust in Carol. I believe what she says. Without someone as caring as her, I don’t know where I’d be.

I’m a much stronger person than when I first came here.”

In the last five years, the number of client assessments carried out by the Sue Lambert Trust has doubled, with support and counselling sessions delivered by the organisation more than trebling. For this year, the level of service response needed to meet demand is forecasted to be even higher.

PCC Lorne Green said: “Alongside an unprecedented increase in reports to police of recent and historic abuse both nationally and closer to home, demand for sexual abuse survivor support services has increased exponentially in recent years.

“As the only Norfolk-based provider of specialist comprehensive support for survivors, the Sue Lambert Trust’s services have been placed under great pressure as they have worked to cope with increasing calls for support.

“The result of a number of high profile child sexual abuse cases, alongside a national inquiry and local campaigns encouraging survivors not to suffer in silence, is that survivors are finding the confidence to come forward and speak up about what is or has happened to them.

“The crimes these people have experienced are heinous and, having taken that monumental step to seek help and support, we owe it to them to ensure the specialist services they need are available.”

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for commissioning victim support services in their police force area, and all PCCs receive dedicated funding from the Ministry of Justice for that purpose.

On top of an annual grant of £75,000 for 2016/17, Norfolk’s PCC provided the Sue Lambert Trust with an additional £23,000 so more volunteer counsellors could be recruited and trained and its operating hours extended in a bid to reduce the size of the waiting list for support.

This year, the PCC has provided an extra £80,000 on top of the annual grant to further increase the number of trained volunteers, extend the number of client sessions available each week and ensure there is a particular focus on responding to the needs of the Sue Lambert Trust’s most vulnerable clients.

Chief Executive Mette Ohrvik said: “We are so pleased to be able to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the OPCCN staff. They are very keen to understand the needs of our clients and to do what they can to support us in delivering services that make a real difference to survivors’ lives.

“The last 6 years have been very challenging for us as the increasing demand for our services has put massive pressure on our resources.  However, now that we have received significant funding from the PCC, we are able to plan for the future with confidence, and able to do more than ever before to help our clients.”

The PCC added: “The services provided by the Sue Lambert Trust are first class, delivered by staff and volunteers who are doing extraordinary things. I am pleased to be able to support them in meeting the needs of the people seeking their help.”