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Funding helps sexual assault charity provide ‘lifeline’ during pandemic

A charity supporting families of sexually abused children has been able to continue operating thanks to funding accessed through the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.

Acts Fast, which works with the non-abusive parents or carers of children who have made a disclosure of sexual abuse, was one of the organisations to receive support after the country was put into lockdown in the spring.

The charity describes a disclosure as being ‘like a bomb going off with shrapnel indiscriminately cutting into everyone involved’ and provides services including counselling and group support.

The funding enabled the charity to provide support for 14 new referrals who came forward during the lockdown period earlier this year, as well as continuing to support the existing 40 clients already receiving help from the charity.

It also enabled them to provide an enhanced service to dozens of existing clients who needed much more frequent support as a result of the lockdown – many who said they had begun suffering from problems such as increased isolation, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

The charity began holding virtual appointments to replace their original face-to-face sessions and also expanded their hours of service to provide evening and weekend sessions, accommodating people who lived with children and so could not talk openly during the day.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) was successful in obtaining funding from the Ministry of Justice Covid-19 fund, which supports charities providing services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, to cover the cost of funding the organisation.

The OPCC had also launched its own Safer Dorset Fund Covid-19 grants to help charities struggling as a result of the pandemic.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Child sexual abuse doesn’t just have a devastating impact on the victims, but on those close to them, and Acts Fast provides essential help to often overlooked people living through traumatic and damaging situations.

“The pandemic has seen many already vulnerable people becoming even more isolated, and it would have been unthinkable for this organisation’s clients to be left without support.

“Commissioning services that provide a benefit to people in Dorset is one of the most important elements of my role, and I am glad my team were able to meet the challenge presented by the pandemic and enable the charity to access these vital funds so quickly.”

Mandy Gulliver, CEO and co-founder of Acts Fast, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding at a such a crucial time to enable the charity not only to continue but to continue to provide our vital lifeline of emotional support, which was essential, to help our clients through such a difficult and scary time.”

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