£500k funding boost for Leeds charities working with victims of rape and sexual assault

Basis Yorkshire chief executive Gemma Scire.
Basis Yorkshire chief executive Gemma Scire.

Three charities in Leeds providing support for victims of rape and sexual assault have been handed more than £500,000 of funding from the Ministry of Justice.

The money will help fund the work of Basis Yorkshire, Support After Rape & Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL) and the Women's Counselling and Therapy Service (WCTS) over a three-year period.

SARSVL will deliver a range of therapeutic services while WCTS will provide easily-available information and support together with a number of initiatives that are described as "empowerment-based" and "peer-led".

Basis Yorkshire will use its grant to offer one-to-one assistance and improved access to counselling for female sex workers.

Recent research indicates that more than 320,000 women in Leeds will have suffered some form of sexual assault since the age of 16.

Nationally, more than 150,000 sexual offences were recorded by police last year.

Basis Yorkshire chief executive Gemma Scire said: “We are pleased we will be able to offer this essential service for the next three years.

"Based on our extensive experience of supporting street and indoor sex workers who have experienced rape or sexual abuse, we know women particularly value working with an organisation that understands sex workers and the stigma they face when seeking support for sexual violence.”

Rebecca Burton, senior business co-ordinator at SARSVL, which is Leeds's Rape Crisis Centre, added: “We are pleased to continue our relationship with the Ministry of Justice and work with other services in Leeds to share our experience and expertise in providing specialist support to survivors of sexual violence via our range of Rape Crisis services, which are also funded by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner along with support from other sources.”

WCTS chief executive Tessa Denham said: “It is fantastic that Leeds women and girls will have access to enhanced support and increased provision in the very near future."

The grants given to the Leeds groups are part of a £24m funding package recently announced for rape and sexual abuse support services in England and Wales.

Victims Minister Edward Argar said: "Victims of rape and sexual violence show immense courage in coming forward – and they must have confidence that the right support will be there when it is needed.

"We are providing funding across more regions than ever, supporting more centres than ever, increasing the overall amount of funding and moving to a three-year funding cycle.

"We are determined to continue to improve access to these vital services for victims to help them rebuild their lives after these devastating crimes."