Funding boost for city’s rape support centre

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A LEEDS base offering specialist support for female rape victims is to get £120.000 in funding to continue its work for the next two years, it was announced today.

Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (Leeds SARVSL) is one of nine centres across Yorkshire sharing nearly £900,000 in new funding.

Victims’ Minister Damian Green made the announcement after yesterday visiting the base in Leeds city centre, which provides help by phone, email and text to sexual assault victims.

Leeds SARVSL, which has five part-time staff and 40 volunteers, will receive £75,000 in 2014/15 and £45,000 in 2015/16 to go towards staffing, training and building costs.

Support centres in Bradford and Kirklees will also get £120,000 each over two years as part of £4.4 million given out by the Ministry of Justice nationwide.

Three bases in South Yorkshire will get funding boosts over the same period as well as one in North Yorkshire and a further two in East Yorkshire and Hull. The Government says it will also be opening two new rape support centres in the coming year, on top of the 13 set up since 2010.

Police and Crime Commissioners will be able to bid for a share of £12 million, on top of their budgets for 2014/15, to commission further specialist services for victims of the most serious crimes, such as domestic violence and sexual violence.

Mr Green said: “Victims need specialist services to help them move on, and where possible, recover from their experiences. It is vital in getting people to come forward and report serious crimes, such as rape, that there is a strong support structure in place. That’s why we’ve committed £16 million of extra funding to support these victims over the next year. It is crucial we don’t leave victims to suffer in silence.”

Leeds SARSVL describes itself as a “feminist organisation supporting women and girls who have been affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives, promoting their needs and working towards the elimination of sexual violence”.

Volunteer Sofina Begum said the service offered face-to-face appointments to victims and would sometimes come into contact with as many as eight a day. She added: “The number of calls and emails we get shows this service is needed.”

As well as going to the base in Leeds, Mr Green also went out on patrol with officers at Pudsey police station and visited the headquarters of the National Police Air Service in Bradford.

To contact SARVSL call Freephone 0808 802 3344.

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