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New contract provides extra support to sexual violence victims

Children and adult victims of sexual violence will have greater access to specialist support after a charity was awarded with a seven year contract.

STARS Dorset have been awarded the contract to provide an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service in the county.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset along with NHS England are funding the £205,000 a year contract.

support being offered to a sexual violence survivor

STARS currently provide an ISVA service but the new contract, which begins in April and runs until 2028, represents a significant investment.

The charity will now provide a range of dedicated advisors who will work with adults, while others will work with children and young people. A male advisor will also be provided, funded by NHS England.

The advisors are there to provide impartial and non-judgemental support and advice to survivors of sexual violence, helping them make informed choices while dealing with the aftermath of traumatic situations.

They can support survivors who have reported to the police by helping them navigate the criminal justice system, as well as providing support for those who need to access other services such as health, housing, education, employment and benefits.

Survivors are able to speak to advisors face to face at the organisation’s centres in Poole and Dorchester, as well as over the telephone or during remote sessions.

They can also be given access to wellbeing workshops or to the STARS counselling service, while support can also be given to family members, partners and spouses.

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “These are dedicated individuals who provide incredible emotional and practical support to people who have been through some of the worst experiences possible, and are living through situations where everything seems confusing and out of control.

“While it is incredibly sad that the service is so badly needed, I am proud to be supporting it and ensuring it can help more people across the county for the next seven years.”

Helen Stevens, CEO of STARS Dorset, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to deliver ISVA services throughout Dorset, following the public procurement process. 

“This opportunity will enable us to further develop the service over the next seven years, ensuring survivors of sexual violence in Dorset have access to the specialist support they need to enable their recovery.  We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the team at Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Shores, building on the already great partnership work that has been established between our two services.”



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