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Huge grant will help Stratford and Warwick charity save lives and prevent sexual abuse

A GRANT worth over £800,000 will help a Stratford and Warwick based charity expand its vital service of preventing sexual abuse.

Young boy bending down and covering his head with his hands. (61065603)
Young boy bending down and covering his head with his hands. (61065603)

Safeline has been awarded £809,000 over three years with a huge grant from the Home Office which means the charity can recruit more counsellors for its online, telephone and face-to-face support services for victims of sexual violence and abuse.

Shocking statistics released by the charity reveal the level of abuse in the county has continued to rise with Safeline receiving six referrals from Warwickshire Police within the last week all involving children under the age of 17 and some as young as four.

“Our service is accessible and anonymous. When we started counselling six years ago we helped 400 people all in Warwickshire last year we helped 20,000 people all over the country. It shows there’s an urgent need for our service and it’s doubled in size since 2016. For some people it has been a life saver,” said Neil Henderson, CEO of Safeline.

The team of counsellors and support staff at Safeline is small in comparison to some of the bigger, more well-known charities like Barnardo’s and the NSPCC but the significance of the £809,000 grant is that this local service can now win national contracts for a very important cause.

“We are punching way above our weight and we should celebrate that. I think it’s magnificent and amazing and I’m really proud of the team. While this grant is a massive boost and we’re grateful to the Home Office for it we still have waiting lists but at least we will be taking on extra counsellors and we can grow the service. When a person contacts us their age, gender, ethnicity is protected and a lot of people find it difficult to talk face-to-face which is why our online and telephone service is so important. We are getting more enquiries from members of the LGBT community asking for our services in the past which in the past has been difficult to reach,” Neil said.

The age for accessing Safeline services used to be 18 plus but the charity has now been reduced it to 16. In addition, the grant will enable Safeline to build-up its translation service as Neil Henderson and the team based in Warwick and at Foundation House in Stratford is now seeing an increase in immigrants to this country who have previously been abused or have been abused since their arrival in Britain but may not have sufficient knowledge of the English language to explain their individual circumstances.

“I want anyone already affected by sexual violence in Warwickshire to be aware of our services and to feel safe and confident enough to access them to begin their journey of recovery. Last year was dominated by COVID and the multitude of challenges it created for our clients and for us trying to support them. For people already living with the impacts of sexual violence, the situation created by the pandemic, (self-isolation, economic insecurity, lack of community and social support), caused and exacerbated stress and anxiety for survivors, their family, and friends. Many men, women, and children found themselves confined to their homes with people who threatened both their emotional and physical health. It is no surprise therefore that the demand for our services has grown. Safeline’s services are confidential, free, and long-term,” Neil said.

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