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Accreditation affirms SARC's commitment to improving quality of support for male victims of sexual violence

DSC 0712Crisis workers Ava Carpenter and Dave Howe, and former service user and member of the SARC Steering Group, Matt Burnett


The team at Hope House Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is celebrating the news that it has received Lime Culture Accreditation – a quality standard awarded to services which support male victims and survivors of sexual violence.

Based at Hope House, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, the SARC provides male and female victims of rape or sexual assault, their friends and families, access to emotional, psychological, medical and practical help.

Explaining the significance of a Lime Culture Accreditation, SARC Manager Emma Twydell says: “The award of this quality mark demonstrates the team's commitment to improving the quality of support for male victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault. It recognises that we fully understand and appreciate that men can be victims of sexual violence too, and that we are here to support them just as much as female victims and children.

“We provide a personal, bespoke service for male clients. Our team receives ongoing, specialist training geared specifically toward helping and supporting male victims of rape and sexual assault - most recently, the Lime Culture Training Programme, which led to us earning this accreditation.”

The SARC started its own male steering group late last year. “We thought that the most effective way of finding out what male victims and survivors want is to talk to them,” explains Crisis Worker Ava Carpenter. “The panel members use their experiences and share their thoughts to help drive the service forward.”

Former service user Matt Burnett was instrumental in the steering group’s formation. “I first contacted the SARC when I made the decision to disclose something that happened to me years ago when I was still living in Scotland,” he says.

“With it being an historic rape case, I didn't require the SARC's forensic medical service. But the emotional support I received was fantastic; they were so supportive. That’s what motivated me to become involved with the steering group.

“Soon after its formation we realised that we didn't want to hear the voices of male survivors only; we wanted to hear those of all survivors. So the steering group now comprises both male and female members.”

“And it's not only survivors who form the panel,” adds Ava. “We have people from the NHS, Victim Support, the Police – lots of different agencies - all coming together to share their experiences and talk about what they find really useful.”

“The steering group helped us put together our male wash bags and aftercare packs. We asked male survivors, 'If you came to the SARC and wanted a shower, what would you like in your wash bag?' Just little details like that are really important to the people who use our service.

“The steering group is also working with the SARC Team to help raise awareness and let people know of the centre's existence.”

“Until I accessed the service three years ago, I didn't know the SARC existed,” says Matt.

“Increasingly we’re seeing its colourful logo and posters in the street and on social media. Its presence is definitely becoming more visible; which means more victims of rape and sexual assault are being made aware of the SARC and the services it provides.”

Ava concurs: “We are definitely seeing a rise in self-referrals. Recent appearances on BBC Radio Gloucestershire and a growing social media presence have helped. We are planning engagement events across the county and work closely with the University of Gloucestershire, so more people are coming through to us than beforehand – particularly male clients.

“This year the number of men seeking our service has risen - not just for medical examinations. Many are historic cases where they call us because they have Googled us or seen us on social media, and we're the first number that they want to call.”
Male Crisis Worker Dave Howe joined the SARC in February last year. “The key thing is about giving people choice,” he says. “Following my appointment we can ask people if they would prefer to have a male or a female crisis worker.

“My role is to provide that immediacy, that support, when a person first arrives at the SARC. It's a case of being with them, sitting down and explaining the process to them and making sure their well-being is catered for.
“Bearing in mind everything that has happened to them, they are in trauma. It's about giving them a bit of control and making sure they do exactly what it is that they want to do; that they're not being pushed into anything.

“My job is to make sure that they're comfortable; that they understand everything. We just need to let them know that they can come to us with any queries they may have and that we are here to support them.”
Those seeking the SARC Crisis Team’s help and advice can do so by using the dedicated helpline which is available at all times out of hours for advice or self-referral, or they can get in touch via email.

To find out more about Hope House SARC, visit the website at www.hopehousesarc.nhs.uk

How to get in touch
  • Call the Hope House SARC Crisis Team 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on 0300 421 8400