Launch of The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service

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Launch of The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service

Posted on Wednesday 23rd December 2015

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes, along with key partners NHS England, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Cumbria Constabulary, has today launched The Bridgeway – a dedicated service for victims of rape and sexual assault, including specialist services that will be delivered from the new sexual assault referral centre based on the Penrith Hospital site in Cumbria.

The Bridgeway, which is co-funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, NHS England, Cumbria NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and the Home Office, is the first of its kind in the county.

The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service brings together a number of newly commissioned services including forensic-medical services, counselling, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors with referral pathways to existing services, to provide co-ordinated support for victims. 

Mr Rhodes said: “I am delighted to launch The Bridgeway sexual assault support service. The services provided will offer a vital lifeline to those who have been victims of rape and sexual assault in the county.

“It represents the culmination of considerable hard work by the project team and our partners, and I would like to thank all concerned for their contribution.  It has only been possible to achieve what we have through the excellent partnership working and co-operation that has taken place.”

Dr Neela Shabde Clinical Director for Children’s Commissioning at NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Cumbria can be very proud of what is happening here. The opening of The Bridgeway Centre means Cumbria can offer a comprehensive, responsive and sensitive service to the victims of sexual assault and abuse. The victims will be given access to the same facilities, care and expertise as those elsewhere in the UK. It also means victims will be seen and supported by specialists much closer to home. It has taken real commitment and drive from many organisations to make this happen.”

Julie Dhuny, head of health and justice for NHS England, Cumbria and the North East said: “It is fantastic that through effective partnership, the new sexual assault referral centre in Cumbria has been launched.

“This first-class facility has been designed specifically with the needs of users in mind and will provide a safe, comfortable environment during a distressing time.

“When people receive the right type of support at the point of need, they are more likely to take positive steps to recovery. Whether a sexual assault has happened recently or in the past, users will have access to a coordinated package of care including effective support services such as counselling and independent sexual violence advisors.

“The service will also provide expert advice, training and support to strengthen the knowledge and skills of other professionals, such as health and social care professionals, third sector organisations, police and the crown prosecution service.”

Detective Superintendent Cath Thundercloud said: “The Bridgeway will be a vital resource to the people of Cumbria and will see the police working with partners to support victims during what can be a very distressing time.

“We take any report of sexual assault seriously and all reports are dealt with sensitively and professionally by our dedicated specialists and investigators, but it is important that victims recognise that there other avenues, such as The Bridgeway, to offer support when they need it.”

The yearly running costs for the Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service (including forensic examination and counselling) is estimated to be £650,000.

There is also a free 24/7 telephone helpline:0808 118 6432, staffed by crisis workers, who can advise victims of sexual assault/abuse, conduct a risk assessment and make referrals onto appropriate services.

Posted on Wednesday 23rd December 2015


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