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  1. The Handbag Project

    West Midlands Police have very generously donated 95 handbags and a wide range of toiletries too. These will be handed out to female sex workers who have faced or are at risk of sexual violence and abuse, and are accessing services offered via the new Butterfly Project. The donations will mean women will receive everyday essentials in the handbags and information about support services too.

     

    The Butterfly Project is a West Midlands wide service offered by RSVP, Black Country Womens Aid (BCWA) and CRASACIt’s a partnership which is funded via the Tampon Tax, specifically for female sex workers facing or at risk of sexual abuse. 

     

    From left to right:

    Clare, Prevention Worker from RSVP

    Sally Simpson, Detective Chief Inspector from West Midlands Police

    Alison, Butterfly Project worker from BCWA

    Detective Chief Inspector Sally Simpson, Lead for Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Modern Slavery and Sex Work at Public Protection Unit, West Midlands Police, acknowledges how female sex workers are often targeted and how the project will help to build relationships.

     

    “West Midlands Police recognise that sex workers can be incredibly vulnerable as they are targeted for violent and serious sexual crimes.  For many reasons sex workers find it difficult to report offences and engage with the police.  The handbag project is a great way for WMP to work closely with our partners in RSVP/Black Country Women’s Aid/CRASAC to distribute vital safety information and information about support services such as Sexual Assault Referral Centres and National Ugly Mugs.  By supporting this project we hope to build the trust of sex workers so they may feel able to report either directly or through the outreach and prevention workers so that we can target those people who seek to cause them harm.” 

     

    We are delighted to receive the donations from the police as they enable us to deliver items to those in the greatest need and get the project, which only started last year, off to such a great start. Thanks to all involved. 

     

    Posted 13 April 2018
  2. Training For London

    Hi, I’m Kate and I wanted to give you an update about my training for the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April which I’m running for RSVP. It will be my first ever marathon and I’m delighted and proud to be running for this amazing charity.

    I am now well into my training with less than a month to go! I have trained up to 22 miles, my longest run ever, and it’s fair to say that I am so tired! I have trained in the sun, the rain and the snow and who knows what the next few weeks will bring. Along with a long run I am also running another 3 times a week, doing spin and power plates and some yoga. I don’t know where I’m finding the time, it’s very time consuming but it’s well worth it.

     

    This charity, their services and this cause is  important to so many people and is undoubtedly the thing that keeps me motivated. I volunteered for this fantastic and important cause for over 10 years on the helpline, it is a charity that’s very special to me. RSVP enables survivors to have support and a safe space to explore their thoughts and feelings through the helpline, coffee mornings, counselling, groups and advocacy for children and adults of all genders.

     

    I applied for a ballot place for the marathon 8 times and finally got a place this year. I always wanted to do this as a personal challenge and also to raise money for this special charity, I am not a natural runner and so this really is a challenge! Through my Online and offline fundraising I’ve already raised over £800 and I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support my friends and family have shown. If you’d like to support me or check what total I’m up to click through to my page here.

     

    RSVP is 40 this year (they set up in 1978) so it’s perfect that I can do this during this year and play my part in supporting this special local cause. I am hoping to keep injury free in the final lead up to the marathon and I really can’t wait for the day!

    Kate

    If like Kate you’d like to support RSVP and get involved in our special year there are all kinds of ways you can do this. Some ideas will raise funds for us without you spending anything extra! Click here for ideas. Thank you.

    Posted 5 April 2018
  3. Good news!

    We are delighted to receive news that Garfield Weston Foundation will support RSVP through 2018/19. They will contribute to the costs of delivering counselling to sexual violence survivors.

    By funding us for core costs, they are strengthening our foundations for the year, securing funding for counselling staff and contributing to overhead costs. Counselling is our busiest service; from 1st January we have received 393 new requests for counselling from adults and children who have experienced sexual abuse. The need for specialist, trauma-informed support is great, and continues to grow.

    Thank you so much to the foundation, from the whole RSVP team, for recognising the importance of our workin our 40th year and boldly showing your support for survivors.

    Posted 27 March 2018
  4. £40 for 40 years in 40 days

    An amazing fundraiser Jude Glynn is selflessly running the London Marathon this year on Sunday 22nd April for RSVP.

    We give our heartfelt thanks to Jude for devoting her time and energy to raise money for RSVP. Jude’s motivation for fundraising is that back in the summer of 2014 something terrible happened to someone she loved very much and RSVP helped them.  We provided counselling and support for the survivor through the court case and helped rebuild their self-esteem.

    As an organisation, we at RSVP, will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. That’s forty years helping survivors of sexual violence with respect, empathy and sensitivity.  As a part of our celebrations we welcome any kind of fundraising to help us continue to provide support for another 40 years. We rely on fundraising to operate and sadly there is a waiting list of people needing support. With support from amazing people like Jude we aim to reduce the time that people are waiting for counselling and furthermore we will provide more support in outreach locations around Birmingham and Solihull, so our services are more accessible and inclusive.

    Get Involved!!

    Could you spare a couple of quid? The response has already been incredible but something small but amazing today will still make a difference.Here’s Jude’s fundraising page https://localgiving.org/fundraising/jude-londonmarathon-2018/

    Want to raise funds your own way? Fundraising needn’t be as exhausting as a marathon run! Bake sales, dress down days at work and clothes swaps are just some ways that you can fundraise for survivors.

     

    Posted 20 March 2018
  5. The Girl Behind the Glass

    RSVP is delighted to announce our support of and involvement in new performances, which will be shown as a series of events marking our 40th year of supporting survivors.  Dates and venues will be announced soon too!

     

    Our involvement started earlier in March 2017 when we were proud to support this work-in-progress performance, which used music and drama to challenge misconceptions about sexual assault, by producing some flyers and promoting it on social media. We’re delighted that composer Chloe Knibbs, an activist we’re honoured to be connected with has written this blog for us reflecting on the performance, its impact and the power of art in challenging myths and raising awareness about sexual abuse.

     

    By Chloe Knibbs:

    Last year, I had a work-in-progress performance of my piece – “The Girl Behind the Glass” – a piece that used music and drama to explore the aftermath of sexual assault   (for more details, please see: http://thecuspmagazine.com/reviews/girl-behind-glass-review/ )

     

    The piece was made up of singing, cello solos, drama and recordings of my material as a singer-songwriter.  Many survivors talk of feeling like that they have been split in two, that one part remains with the trauma whilst the other part attempts to maintain ordinary everyday life (despite everything feeling anything other than normal). As a result, I decided to make the two singers represent parts of the same person, a visual indication of just how fractured someone may feel in the aftermath of this type of trauma. The piece followed the journey of these two parts of the same person at various points. There was the denial, the withdrawal, the anger, the self-hatred – how the media and responses from others can feed this – the trauma symptoms, and the coming together of these two parts with acceptance and self-compassion.

     

    At the time of writing the piece I felt people did not talk about these issues enough and that those who were brave enough to bring them up in discussions were either ignored or silenced. A lot has changed since then. With an array of media campaigns we have seen many stories of abuse rise to the surface and be heard. And yet, I still feel that society misses so many opportunities to show compassion to those that share their traumatic experiences. So often the scandal of one individual eclipses the bravery of so many people. These scandals also forget that experiencing these traumas is just the beginning. And this is the story I aimed to tell in “The Girl Behind the Glass”. The story of unexpected twists and turns, judgement and shame as someone learns to live with such distressing memories and experiences.

     

    The performance finished with yellow flower petals falling down to the stage floor. It was a funeral of what had been lost. It was grief. It was hope.

    After the performance I gave out feedback forms to all the audience members, with just one question: “How did the piece affect you?”. I was incredibly surprised by the reactions. It turned out there were a number of survivors in the audience, and all had written of how they could connect with the performance and how helpful – also exhausting – that had been. I was massively touched by this, and I think it is the best feedback I could have ever received. The fact that these individuals came to the performance was incredibly brave, and I am so glad they felt they could share their stories with me.

     

    And there was a second surprise. Many of the other feedback forms included sentiments such as “I will rethink how I respond to these issues in the future”. Or “I have an insight into the difficulties people face when trying to cope with sexual assault”. When writing the piece I had hoped it would open people’s eyes, or make them aware of the negative impact certain comments or responses can have. Nevertheless, I did not expect this level of feedback. As an artist, I am inevitably invested in the power of art – for myself, for others, for communities – but I had underestimated it this time. For people to be prepared to rethink and question the normalised responses to rape and sexual assault, gave me an insight into what changes could be made in the future. Perhaps one of the audience members will meet someone who is dealing with these issues, and they will be the voice of compassion that challenges the judgement and stigma. They will be a voice of hope, for the 85,000 women and the 12,000 men in the UK who experience sexual assault every year (https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php ).

     

    After seeing the impact this performance had I have decided to develop the piece further, responding to the feedback given at the work-in-progress performance. The completed piece will be performed in Birmingham later this year. These performances will be part of a series of events marking the Rape and Sexual Violence Project’s 40th year of supporting sexual violence and sexual abuse survivors, and are being supported by the PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music Fund.

     

    www.chloeknibbs.com

    Chloe Knibbs is supported by the PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music

     

    Posted 23 February 2018
  6. New Advocacy Support in Solihull area

    New Abuse Survivors Clinics (ASC’s) are being offered in Solihull and Chelmsley Wood through our ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy) service. This adds to the long running ASC already provided in Whittall Street where you can see our ISVA and a doctor (no doctor is available on the Solihull and Chelmsley Wood clinics.)

     

    The ASC’s are places where sexual abuse survivors can go to seek support and are run in collaboration with Umbrella Sexual Health. Information about dates, times and locations of the ASC’s can be found here.

     

    At the clinics our specialist advocates (ISVAs) can advise, signpost, refer and chaperone sexual abuse survivors for therapeutic and/or practical support. We know that accessing support can feel daunting and this service gives an easier, local access point for survivors from Solihull and Chelmsley Wood. The ASC’s are open to anybody who is a survivor of sexual violence, of any gender, and any age 13+. Our ISVAs are there for you if you need information around access to health care, reporting to the police, and any other issue that directly relates to the abuse experienced.  ISVAs will support you to feel informed so you can make your own independent decisions.

     

    CEO Lisa Thompson, and Head of ISVA Services Yvonne Langham were on BBC Radio WM about the new clinics. They talk about the specialist support needed when survivors of sexual abuse don’t know where to turn and are worried about starting police investigations and the court process. Listen here.

     

    85% of sexual abuse cases don’t get reported, however survivors still need holistic support even when taking legal action is not the way forward. There has been recently been an increase in people coming forward needing help with dealing with non-recent abuse, but still living with the effects many years later. If you’re a survivor, help is out there. If you’re local to Solihull and Chelmsley Wood, the new clinics are on your door step; ready to listen to you, believe you, and support you.

    Posted 10 February 2018
  7. A Disorder for Everyone – a trauma informed alternative

    “I was exasperated with the whole ‘disorder’ thing – it has taken over as the only way to understand distress and there is nothing hopeful about it. This event challenges it all, and, as it turns out – there is hope!” (Participant Newcastle AD4E)

    RSVP is proud to be involved in a partnership event alongside the team from ‘A Disorder for Everyone.’ The event will challenge the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, explore trauma informed alternatives, examine  current attitudes and aim to change the way we approach mental health. Rather than labelling people, including survivors of sexual trauma, with medical ‘disorders’ and language, we believe in choices, empowerment, trauma informed support and addressing the root causes of distress. We advocate that instead of asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’ supporters and professionals gently enquire, ‘what’s happened to you?’

     

    “A Disorder for Everyone” – will be a dynamic and thought provoking day, welcoming well informed and passionate speakers who challenge the mainstream narrative of ‘diagnosis and disorder’ in favour of non- pathologising, trauma-informed alternatives. If you want the chance to hear innovative and an alternative narrative about mental health book your place now.

    ‘A Disorder For Everyone!’ is taking place on Friday 20th April, Carrs Lane Church Centre, Birmingham, B4 7SX, 09:00 – 17:00.

     

    The day will be of interest to mental health professionals, students and trainees, academics, people with lived experience of psychiatric diagnosis, activists, carers, supporters, survivors and anyone interested in current debates about mental health.

    Speakers include;

    Dr Lucy Johnstone – clinical psychologist and author of ‘Users and Abusers of Psychiatry

    Jo Watson – psychotherapist and organiser of Drop the Disorder

    Nollaig McSweeney – therapist, author and activist

    Dr Jacqui Dillon – survivor, author, activist and trainer, featured on BBC’s Why Did I Go Mad?

    Jessica Eaton – speaker, activist and researcher in victim blaming

    Dr. Akima Thomas, Black feminist, psychotherapist and recent contributor to the activists letter speaking out on  sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse

    RSVP, and more!

    Poet Clare Shaw, survivor and activist, will also be performing.

    Please click on the link below for full details and booking

    http://bit.ly/2nUsLmW

    Posted 9 February 2018
  8. The heat is on! 22nd March

    Join us on the 22nd of March as we approach our 40th birthday as a charity supporting survivors of rape, childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence, trafficking, as an adult or child or both.

    The need is greater than ever – the heat is on to increase support for survivors.

    As the need grows, we have expanded enormously. Already we have had to increase our team of award winning ISVAs (advocates) to offer support with police and court processes, as well as our counselling staff and helpline opening hours.

    Come and network with us and others for our ‘hottest’ event yet.

    Ticket price is £25pp

    Included –

    Entrance to three venues

    Free oriental cocktails

    Free food (steadily getting hotter!)

    Karaoke

    ‘The Heat Is On Challenge’ for those wishing to take part. For £5 you can enter the competition to find the hottest taste buds! Great prize for the winner.

    Link to tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-heat-is-on-tickets-42238673008?aff=es2

    Please contact Jeremy, RSVP’s corporate fundraiser, on jeremy@rsvporg.co.uk or 07793536002 for any queries or to donate prizes, sponsorship and to enter the Heat Is On Challenge

     

     

    Posted 8 February 2018
  9. We reclaimed the night!

    Last night, we marched at the University of Birmingham to demand justice for sexual abuse survivors and to demand the right to use public space without fear.

    In 2017 the Guardian reported in almost every country in the world, women walk disproportionately fewer steps each day than men, according to a recent Stanford study which analysed the smartphone data of 717,527 people worldwide over 68 million days of activity. The ‘gender step gap’ is not down to laziness. It’s down to personal safety and women’s walking habits. Feeling forced to use transport instead of walking makes safety a privilege, according to Stop Street Harassment founder Holly Kearl. This option to not walk is only available if you have the financial means to access transport – which means for teenage girls in particular, cost can be a barrier to safety.

    A report released last month by the Children’s Society showed one in three girls aged between 10 and 17 in Britain said they felt afraid of being followed by strangers. Multiple girls described being “beeped” at while in their school uniforms by men driving past.

    In every sphere of life women and girls negotiate the threat of sexual assault and harassment. Equal citizenship cannot be claimed while this threat restricts lives. Everyone has the right to use public space without fear.

    The Reclaim the Night march gives women a voice and a chance to reclaim the streets at night on a safe and empowering event.

    RSVP were there along with the new university Sexual Assault Referral Centre service (SARC), increasing support for survivors on campus.

     

    Posted 7 February 2018
  10. It’s Not Ok

    Did you know that this week it’s Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week? What will you be doing to raise awareness of sexual abuse?

    You can use the hashtag #itsnotok to raise awareness on social media.

    You can read the words of survivors on our Survivor Stories page.

    You can donate to our 40th birthday campaign, we’re aiming to rise £40,000 to mark our 40th year and continue supporting survivors for 40 more.

    You can challenge victim blaming myths wherever you hear them. Jessica Eaton has made this fantastic 60 second video introducing the problem of victim blaming in sexual violence.

    And what are RSVP doing this week?

    Today, we’re at the launch of a new publication To Report or Not To Report: Survivor Testimony of the (In)Justice System by our friends at Reconnected Life. We’re proud to know some of the contributors who have shown immense courage as they speak out about their experiences.

    Tonight, we’re at the University of Birmingham to Reclaim the Night, standing up against sexual violence and harassment, cat-calling and victim blaming.

    And this week we’re offering 287 counselling appointments to survivors of any gender, any age in various locations around Birmingham and Solihull.

     

     

    Posted 6 February 2018