Over the past two years we’ve been working with the team at Merida to independently evaluate our counselling services for adults who have been subjected to sexual violence and abuse. In November 2019 we published the interim report, and now the final report is ready to share.
Counselling services are our busiest services. Though we offer more than 200 counselling sessions a week to adults, 7 days a week, survivors of abuse are having to wait months for their counselling to begin. This is part of a national crisis in the sector, but we want to reflect on what we can do locally as an organisation to reduce waiting times while still offering trauma-informed, survivor-centred support. You can read the report by clicking the link below.
Some of the findings:
Survivors face a confusing landscape when seeking support, as sexual assault referral centres, health services, mental health services and charities all offer different types of support with varying levels of accessibility.
In January 2019 the demand pressures on RSVP’s services had grown to such an extent that the waiting list for adult counselling was increasing rather than decreasing. This led to consultation on and implementation of service changes, including reducing the number of weeks of counselling from 24 to 16 (from April 2019).
In the research period, adult counselling at the city centre and outreach locations combined grew from 179 sessions per week to 227 per week ( this has since grown and with children’s counselling too we offer more than 300 sessions a week).
The expansion of outreach counselling has been successful in
extending the reach of the adult counselling service to people who were unable to access the city centre site.
Average waiting times reduced from 7 months to 5 months in January 2020, (though waiting times vary significantly depending on where the services is accessed).
The future of the service
Though huge progress has been made in reducing waiting times, the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for some time. Many people who were accessing the service in March put their sessions on hold because they were unable to, and did not want to, continue their sessions by phone during lockdown. When face to face services resume, social distancing will limit the numbers of clients who can be at the premises at one time and some outreach locations will open later than others.
We’re pleased that we’ll continue to work with Merida to evaluate the service, including the impact of Covid-19, counselling in a social distanced environment and new ways of accessing counselling (i.e. online platforms).
If you have any comments on the report, please contact Sarah Lafford firstname.lastname@example.org
The Red Project is a specialist service run by RSVP, providing practical and emotional support to female sex workers. Through the Red Project we largely support women working in venues and in ‘red light districts’. We know that a growing number of sex workers are working mainly or entirely online and we want to understand better how our service can meet the needs of online sex workers. If this is relevant to you, please see details below from Jane Pitcher and Rosie Campbell, who are independent researchers.
“We are independent researchers carrying out research on behalf of the Red Project to find out how they can better promote and improve their services to women working in the online sector. This research is funded by the Feminist Review Trust, which has approved the ethical statement for the study. The Trust has previously funded other projects related to sex work, including the Sex Worker’s Opera.
If you are a sex worker who advertises online (including working in escorting, webcamming, BDSM or fetish work, adult film or sexual massage), and if you work or have worked in Birmingham or Solihull, or live in the West Midlands and think you may have need of the services of the Red Project at any time, please help us and complete a short survey, which is anonymous and confidential here https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/0FJDDS/. The survey should take you no more than 5 minutes to complete. The data from the survey will only be used to inform future services delivered by the Red Project, in order to ensure you are getting the services you need and want.
As a way of saying ‘thank you’ for participating in the survey, we are giving the option to take part in a prize draw, with a first prize of a Love2Shop online voucher worth £100 and 5 runner up prizes of vouchers worth £50 each. If you would like to take part in the prize draw, please leave your email address at the end of the survey. We will not link this to the data from the survey and will not keep it after the prize draw is completed. The data we receive from the survey is held on UK servers; we do not get information about your IP address or any other digital trace. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Jane Pitcher on email@example.com, or Rosie Campbell on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also doing a small number of confidential telephone interviews, in addition to the survey. If you would like to take part in an interview, please email Rosie Campbell on email@example.com. The interviews will take approximately 30 minutes and a Love2Shop online voucher of £40 is offered to everyone who takes part in these.”
On 18th March 2020, we closed the doors of our RSVP office and outreach sites due to COVID-19, with all face to face sessions moving to telephone support.
We’re delighted to start welcoming you back to resume face to face support…
On Monday 31st August, we will be re-opening the doors of our Chelmsley Wood outreach site and resuming face to face support for some survivors.
On Monday 7th September, we will be re-opening the doors of our Birmingham City Centre office and Kings Heath Lions outreach site and resuming face to face support for some survivors.
Due to social distancing guidelines, it is with regret that we are unable to welcome back all survivors to resume face to face support. If you are being supported by an RSVP Counsellor or ISVA, they will be in touch with you to provide further details.
Recent changes in our approach surrounding COVID-19 have been made to reflect the most recent guidance and legislation issued by UK Government. Under current UK legislation, risk assessments are required to be carried out before re-opening workplaces. We feel it’s important that you have access to our risk assessments and are informed about the steps we’ve taken to ensure that our RSVP workplaces comply with current UK legislation and are COVID-19 secure.
RSVP may look and operate a little differently to what you remember but we are still here to support you. We’ve made adaptions to our city centre premises and outreach sites to protect you, our team and continue to play our part in reducing the spread of infection. The risk assessment measures are in place to protect everyone, whilst continuing to offer support in the best way we can, given current circumstances.
We hope these risk assessments reassure you of the steps we’ve taken to keep you safe and provide you with an idea of how RSVP will look whilst hygiene and social distancing measures are in place. Please find our risk assessments below:
Our other outreach sites remain closed. We’ll keep you updated as and when they re-open.
Please click below for information surrounding our COVID-19 Secure measures for children & young people.
We are unable to resume face to face social groups, coffee mornings and Arts with Hearts due to social distancing guidelines. However, some of our groups are taking place virtually. For more details, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our current Helpline opening hours, please visit our Helpline Support page.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how long these measures will be in place. Our risk assessments and associated measures remain under continuous review.
Regardless of whether you resume face to face support with us or continue with telephone support, we’re here for you.
Sending care and compassion,
The RSVP Team
We have been monitoring the health situation with Coronavirus carefully in order to protect your health, the health of our team and the health of people who visit us too. We have already been following public health and Government advice and been encouraging hand washing and the use of hand sanitiser to reduce the risk of infection.
Since the Government has moved to the next phase of advice we want to update you, as we want to play our part in reducing the spread of the virus and protecting the most vulnerable.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we ask that anyone with symptoms, a new and persistent cough and/or a temperature/fever does not come to the RSVP office or into an outreach site. Please stay at home and wait until the symptoms have passed and self isolate.
Please click here and read this advice if you do need to self-isolate.
Support by telephone can be arranged and is available, please speak to the office to ask about this.
We will not count counselling sessions which have been missed due to Coronavirus, self-isolation or caring for children if schools shut down.
Also, if you have been into RSVP or an outreach site, and then have a positive diagnosis of Corona Virus, please inform us.
We hope this gives you some clear information and advice. We will continue to monitor the situation and do our best to look after your health while receiving RSVP services. Take good care.
December 2019 saw our excellent team acknowledged as double award winners, thanks to the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC).
First, we were pleasantly surprised to win Charity of the Year, especially against such stiff competition from the other great charities nominated. The judges said our work stood out and that they could see the huge impact we had on society and also, the ways in which we had sustained and grown our services particularly through austerity and challenging economic times.
Then before the shock had eased we also won the Overall Business of the Year Award. We couldn’t believe it!
While we don’t work at RSVP solely to win awards, these awards mean so much to us and are for each and every member of the RSVP team. Our volunteers and staff work tirelessly for children and adults subjected to sexual violence and sexual abuse. We all take bold steps, show survivors that we believe them, in a world that often doesn’t, and demonstrate big hearted support. We ensure that people can live hopeful and confident futures after sexual trauma. I am so proud of the huge and meaningful differences that the RSVP team helps to make for children and adults subjected to sexual abuse.
Finally, we very much appreciate the recognition from the ABCC. Their support means the world to us and shows that they value the importance of what we do and the impact that we make. Warm thanks to the ABCC for not only acknowledging what we do but for being so willing to speak out and acknowledge the issues surrounding rape and sexual violence within society. It was amazing to hear ABCC judges say: “RSVP deals with real challenges, changing lives for the better, with limited resources and empowers individuals to take charge of their lives. They are richly deserved winners, and I would like to congratulate them and all of the other winning firms which have demonstrated excellence in their categories.” Thank you again.
Lisa Thompson, CEO
A huge heartfelt thank you to Bournville Harriers (BVH) running club who had their Christmas party on Friday. Through their raffle they kindly raised £212 for us and another fabulous local charity, St. Mary’s Hospice. £106 will buy 26 public transport tickets so that any child or adult who needs to travel to us for an appointment, but can’t afford to, can be given a day travel ticket. This means they never have to miss out on receiving our support. That is truly fabulous, thank you!
As if this generosity wasn’t enough they also donated some festive party headbands and glasses so we can donate them to some of the children and families we support. This is just a very small selection of them! We hope that these will bring a little bit of festive fun and laughter at what can be a difficult time for many.
Thanks again BVH for your continued kindness and generosity. We really appreciate your efforts from all the different ways you’ve fundraised for us, including every single one of your runners who have run sponsored runs for us, and every member who has donated to these runs too. It means the world to us to have your support. Happy Christmas all.
On Friday 27th December we’ll be holding a survivor drop-in group session from 10.30-12.30. Join us for a cup of tea and a mince pie. All current and previous clients welcome. No need to book, just turn up to our city centre premises.
We know that Christmas can be a tough time. You’re not alone.
Would you like to take part in a study aimed at understanding the support survivors of sexual violence receive from specialist voluntary sector services? If so, please read on…..
Researchers at the University of Birmingham are carrying out a research project about the role of specialist sector voluntary services who support survivors of sexual violence. Despite their historically important role providing and innovating services in this field, there is very limited evidence about what they do and how they work alongside other services (such as health, mental health, housing, etc). With limited evidence, it can be difficult to understand and demonstrate the role of specialist sector voluntary services.
The aim of the research is to develop a comprehensive national picture of specialist voluntary sector services for survivors in England, giving voice to survivors’ service experiences, comparing the range, scope and funding of services, and analysing similarities and differences in how services are delivered and commissioned, in order to make recommendations that will strengthen the service response to survivors.
What will be involved?
Adult survivors of sexual violence and abuse are invited to take part in a focus group (an interview in the form of a group discussion with 6-10 other people) which seeks your views about the services you have used, the ways they could be improved and what the researchers should ask organisations and funders of specialist voluntary sector services. It will take place at RSVP’s city centre premises on Wednesday 19th February 2020, 2.30pm. The group will be women-only and last for approximately one hour and the researchers want to say thank you in the form of a £45 voucher.
You are eligible to participate if:
- You identify as a survivor of sexual violence or abuse
- You are 18 years old or over
- You are female (a men-only focus group is taking place in another part of the country)
- The sexual violence occurred more than six months ago
- You have used a voluntary sector specialist service within the last 3 years
If you meet these criteria we would really like to hear from you. To participate, or find out more, please contact:
Sarah Lafford: email@example.com / 0121 643 0301
From the research team:
Clare Gunby: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0121 414 3345
Louise Isham: email@example.com / 0121 414 8591
If you would like to take part but don’t want to take part in a group discussion, or are male, please get in contact with the researcher who will arrange a different way to hear your views.
If you’ve used our services and support our work in any way, you’ll probably know that the counselling service for adults has been busier than ever. Although we’ve increased capacity over recent years, opening seven days a week and operating from seven sites across Birmingham and Solihull, people have had to wait months for their counselling sessions to start.
This is part of a national crisis in the sector, but we want to reflect on what we can do locally as an organisation to reduce waiting times while still offering trauma-informed, survivor-centred support. We have commissioned an independent evaluation into our counselling service for adult survivors of sexual violence. Part one of the two-part report is here.
Some of the findings: Specialist providers, like RSVP, have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for their services in recent years, resulting in most agencies having 6-12 months waiting times and some agencies even closed their waiting lists to new clients.
In the research period, adult counselling at RSVP’s city centre and outreach locations grew from 179 sessions per week to 190 per week.
RSVP provide groups, written self-help and an online self-help tool for people while they wait for counselling, but survey and focus group respondents didn’t always know about these things. We need to advertise these services more.
People don’t always know that to expect from counselling, and would benefit from more information so they could feel better prepared and make the most of their counselling. We will compose a pre-counselling information sheet.
A service for supporters was recommended. We are piloting two groups, one for parents of sexually abused children, one for other supporters of survivors (partners, friends etc). Contact us on 0121 643 0301 if you would like attend a supporters group.
If you have any comments on the report, please contact Sarah Lafford firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) award for Outstanding Charity of the Year.
We’re in very good company! Other shortlisted charities Muslim Aid, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, Sense and Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer.
The winner will be announced at the annual dinner and awards event at The National Motorcycle Museum on Saturday, 7 December.
Thank you so much to the chamber for shortlisting us, and showing your big-hearted support to people subjected to sexual violence.