A new pilot programme has been created to support families of people who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Families will be able to access practical and emotional support under a new NHS-funded scheme created by the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Commissioner’s Office.
The year-long scheme, which went live last month, is initially being made available to people living in Stoke-on-Trent, Cannock and Stafford.
It is being funded thanks to a £75,000 grant from NHS England and Improvement and is being delivered by Staffordshire Women’s Aid in partnership with Savana.
The scheme was envisaged after officials from the Commissioner’s Office met with survivors and heard about the impact the abuse had on the family unit.
Through the provision of two family support workers the service will offer a co-ordinated, tailored package of care, including referrals to other specialist services.
The package will advocate on behalf of and be the voice of the family and ‘significant others’ of sexual abuse survivors. These ‘significant others’ include people who may not live with the survivors but play a role in their everyday life, such as long-term partners.
Sue Arnold, Deputy Staffordshire Commissioner, said: “Sexual abuse can happen to anyone and can have severe and long-lasting impacts such as depression, post-traumatic stress and even suicide.
“This is why it is so important the right support is available and having heard first-hand how families as a whole can be impacted by abuse, I am very pleased NHS England and Improvement has agreed to fund this project in Staffordshire.
“What makes this scheme particularly welcome is that it will focus on supporting family members or significant others of victims to better enable them to understand what has happened and offer the best possible support to their loved ones.”
Roz Lindridge, from NHS England and Improvement, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with local partners to better support survivors to recover, heal and rebuild their lives.”
Dickie James, Chief Executive Officer at Staffordshire Women’s Aid, said: “We are very pleased to be involved with our partner project Savana in developing this innovative service for family members and significant others of victims of sexual abuse and violence.
“Over the years our work with victims has enabled us to see how much the sexual abuse of a family member can impact others in the family.
"This new approach aims to address these impacts and help family relationships to heal from the trauma and damage caused by sexual abuse.”