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  1. Meet Nicola – RSVP’s newest LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate

    Hi, I’m Nicola and I’m the newest edition to the LGBT ISVA team at RSVP. I joined at the beginning of September and feel very privileged to be a part of this family. I started at RSVP as a volunteer counsellor originally and I will always say my role as a LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate was fate.

    As I was travelling in for my counselling role, I thought about trying to organise an LGBT coffee morning group and when I arrived, I saw the ISVA role advertised and applied immediately.

    Being a part of the LGBT community myself, it was really important to me to be able to offer support in this specialist area. If you identify as being a part of the LGBT+ community and have ever experienced rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse at ANY point in your life, I am here to help. Sexual violence can affect anyone regardless of their gender identity or what type of relationship they’re in.

    Quoted from the Love is a Rainbow website “Unfortunately; our silence on these matters has meant that criminals and deviants are allowed to continue with their nefarious misdeeds. Nobody is going to challenge the social injustice that we face, unless we ourselves start taking control of the steering wheel. The suffering that we face as a result of sexual violence is individualized and therefore does not inspire the requisite strategic response that has traditionally been used to combat societal problems such as armed robbery.

    The statistics are certainly alarming enough: between 40% and 60% of all women within the LGBT+ community are bound to face at least once incident of physical violence, rape and stalking by an intimate partner. Up to 37% of men within this community will experience similar aggression. The statistics of successful prosecutions are hidden far away from public view. Sometimes it appears that nobody is worried if LGBT+ people become victims of crime. The implicit message is that the community is deserving of such treatment.

    It is also important to emphasize the fact that the LGBT+ community is just like any other. There are misfits and troublemakers. Therefore; it is expected that a few bad eggs will make the cut. The real dilemma is how we can deal with this threat of violence. The fact that the victims are largely silent also reduces the possibilities of challenging those who are trampling on our rights. Suffering in silence has never won us any rights. Indeed, many of the things that we have achieved as a community are directly linked to a certain level of militancy and persistent advocacy.”

    So, how can I support you?

    *Ensure your views, opinions, wishes and needs are understood, respected, listened to and met
    *Inform and support you about your options, concentrating on what you need and want
    *Ensure you understand and receive your legal rights and entitlements if you report to the police
    *Inform you of other options you might have
    *Offer compassionate support to people who are supporting you – your partner, friends and family
    *Arranging appointments, referring you, or possibly going with you, to other support services, such as counselling, domestic abuse and refuge support, drug/alcohol services and health appointments
    *Arranging appointments and referring you to sexual health services via Umbrella Sexual Health
    *Arrange for, and support you to attend SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) if you have been recently assaulted, if police are involved or not, for the possible collection of forensic evidence


    I am here to provide practical and emotional support and help you express your views and wishes. Make sure your voice is heard and you are aware of services you have access to.

    If you are thinking about reporting to the police, I will offer you support throughout the criminal proceedings, which I understand may feel scary but I am here to support you. You call the ISVA office on 0121 643 0301 option 2 or email on isva@rsvporg.co.uk

    You are valued and you don’t have to feel you are on your own.

    Posted 16 October 2019
  2. Outstanding!

    On Thursday 28th September LimeCulture will be revealing the winners from their shortlisted nominations for the 2017 LimeLight Awards.

     

    We are absolutely delighted and so proud that one of our ISVAs (advocates) has been nominated for the Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults.’

     

    Our team member Lisa Monks has done exceptionally well to be selected as one of only three nominees across the U.K.. The award she’s nominated for celebrates excellent practice and the achievements of an individual ISVA who supports adults. All nominees have demonstrated commitment, passion and exceptional encouragement and support for their adult clients.

     

    Lisa has been nominated alongside Yvonne Raybone from Amethyst SARC and Barbara Pawson from Arch North East. We wish them all well but obviously hope that Lisa wins for us, although in our eyes Lisa is already outstanding with or without an award.

    Limelight Awards

    Limelight Awards

    Last year you might remember that firstly, our entire ISVA Team won the “ISVA Exceptional Team” award, for leading the way in the provision of ISVA services and for making a significant contribution to supporting survivors. Secondly that a LimeLight Award was named in honour and memory of our beloved colleague and friend Vicky Bardsley who we still miss so much. Vicky supported children and young people at RSVP and sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2015. The award is one of the many ways that Vicky is leaving a positive legacy for the many sexually abused children and young people she supported.

     

    For the ISVAs nominated for the “Vicky Bardsley Prize: Oustanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People”  and for the “ISVA Exceptional Team” Award we wish you well.

     

    We’d like to congratulate RSVP’s Lisa Monks and every other nominee shortlisted as we know that it is a fantastic achievement to get this far.

     

    A final message to our Lisa though, we genuinely appreciate you, this award is a testament to your skill, dedication and professionalism, and we hope you win!

    Posted 27 September 2017
  3. Free Legal Clinic.

    Expert sexual abuse lawyers from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors http://www.irwinmitchell.com/personal/personal-injury-compensation/abuse-and-criminal-injury-claims/physical-and-sexual-abuse-claims have teamed up with RSVP to provide free legal advice for survivors we have supported in the past and those currently using our services too. The clinic has now been running for a year and during this time legal support and advice has been provided to a number of survivors.

     

    The aim of the clinics is to offer free legal advice to survivors across a broad range of legal topics, including family law matters, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims and civil claims. Civil claims could be made against an individual who has committed abuse, an organisation responsible for that person (usually an employer) or an organisation that should have taken steps to prevent abuse, but failed – such as social services.

     

    Raman  Dhillon (pictured above) provides free advice alongside emotional and practical support from Yvonne Langham, Head of ISVA Services and our advocacy team.

     

    The legal clinic takes place on the last Friday of every month and it proves to be extremely useful to those who require legal advice, but may not be able to afford it or know where to access this information.

     

    If for any reason you are unable to attend the legal clinic on the last Friday of the month please let Yvonne know on 0121 643 0301 option 2 or yvonne@rsvporg.co.uk and Raman will look into accommodating your enquiry at a more convenient time for you.

     

    The next legal clinic will be on Friday 30 June 2017 between 11:00am and 1:00pm at RSVP offices in central Birmingham. We look forward to seeing you there, no appointment is necessary, just drop in!

    Posted 16 June 2017
  4. Feeling proud!

    RSVP’s specialist LGBT ISVAs Bev & Mark were at Birmingham Pride 26-27 May and had a lovely time embracing diversity & equality while promoting our specialist service for survivors within the LGBT community. Bev & Mark had a stall set up in the marquee with our Umbrella partners sexual health testing team, Birmingham LGBT centre and Swanswell.

     

    We enjoyed watching the parade, celebrating 50 yers since decriminalisation of homeosexuality and seeing all the community groups taking part with the colourful fun spirit of the event.; dancing along to the musical floats as they went passed.

    We watched Zara Sykes perform her latest single The Right which is about violence and sexual abuse.

    Bev was in the women’s arena promoting our services to LBT women, who are currently underrepresented.  We hope we reached out to some of the women present, and that people know our services are there for them if ever they need them.

    The increased security were a comforting reassurance following the terrorist attacks in Manchester & London. The silence in honour of those lives lost was a sombre moment yet the LGBT community continued to celebrate acceptance and diversity against the adversity.

    We hope that everyone had a safe & happy pride, and have reached some of the LGBT community who may now feel more comfortable in accessing support following any sexual violence/abuse.

    Posted 14 June 2017
  5. Meet Mark – LGBT ISVA

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    The ISVA team with their award, I knew I was being trained by the best, but now it’s official!

    My name is Mark and I am a new member of the ISVA team here at the Rape and Sexual Violence Project. I started working for RSVP at the beginning of August and thought I’d share with you how my first few months have been as well as some information on how I and other members of our team may be able to help you.

    Since starting this role I have had a lot of new experiences, met a diverse range of people and been able to attend some excellent training, including the Lime Culture ISVA Development Programme provided by the UK’s leading sexual violence training company. All of the team have been so supportive and welcoming and I feel so happy working for an excellent organisation. This was particularly celebrated when the ISVA team were presented with the Exceptional ISVA Team award at Lime Culture’s Limelight Awards.  I knew I was being supported and trained by the best, but it is now official!

    So why did I decide to join the team as a specialist ISVA to support the LGBT community? Well I have worked in sexual health for the last ten years and much of my experience has been supporting the LGBT community. I am also a member of the community myself and felt I had a wealth of experience that I can offer to further help and support people. As an LGBT Independent Sexual Violence Advocate I can provide practical and emotional support to anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans*who has experienced sexual abuse or violence.

    Anyone can be affected by sexual violence and our great team of ISVA’s can all offer support. However, there are times that someone may feel that they need some specialist support. I hope that myself, and my colleague Bev – the other LGBT ISVA at RSVP – can be there to offer that specific help.

    So why do we have LGBT specific services? Well unfortunately hate crime against the LGBT community continues to remain prevalent in the UK and that includes instances of sexual assault. Stonewall report that:

    “One in six lesbian, gay and bi people have experienced a homophobic or biphobic hate crime or incident over the last three years and that 38 per cent of trans people have experienced physical intimidation and threats” (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/lgbt-facts-and-figures)

    And the Homophobic Hate Crime Report 2013 noted that of these high statistics:

    “One in eight victims experienced unwanted sexual contact.” (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Homophobic_Hate_Crime__2013_.pdf)

    What is worrying is that “two-thirds of those experiencing a hate crime or incident did not report it to anyone” (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/lgbt-facts-and-figures)

    ISVAs can provide support in a number of ways that can assist anyone who has experienced sexual abuse or violence including:
    • Talking you through your options
    • Ensuring you can access the services and support you need
    • Offering emotional and practical support
    • Enabling you to report to the police if you decide to
    * Exploring other ways you can pass on information about the trauma you have experienced (e.g. anonymously through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre – SARC)
    • Ensuring your well-being, by chaperoning you on health appointments, including sexual health screenings

    If you feel that any of these services may be useful for you, you can contact an LGBT ISVA by calling 0121 643 0301 option 2 or directly on 07983 555598 (Mark) or 07535172052 (Bev)

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted 1 December 2016
  6. Our exceptional ISVA team!

    awards-photo

    We’re delighted to announce that the RSVP Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy (ISVA) team has been given the Exceptional ISVA Team award at the first Limeculture Limelight awards, a real credit to their tireless work for survivors. The award acknowledged the immense changes that the ISVA team had gone through, including losing a much loved team member Vicky Bardsley, to cancer last year.

    Lime Culture are the training establishment who offer a high standard of training to ISVAs around the UK.

    The Umbrella sexual health partnership has seen the ISVA team double in size this year and really broaden the scope of advocacy support, developing the profession and what it means to advocate for survivors.

    Yvonne Langham, Head of ISVA Services and Margaretta Vauls, Children & Young Person’s ISVA, were there to accept the award along with CEO Lisa Thompson.

    “As Head of ISVA Services at RSVP, I am absolutely delighted that our amazing ISVA team has won the Lime Culture LimeLight Award 2016. We had a really lovely day which ended fantastically when we were announced as the most exceptional ISVA team. Wow, I’m still smiling and feeling terribly proud!  The lovely glass trophy I accepted on behalf of the team now sits in our reception area, please take a look when you next pass through.

    This award confirms that our staff are truly a remarkable bunch of people, who always go the extra mile and work to the best of their ability to offer support to those who need it. We assist any female or male survivor who needs advocacy support with anything relating to the sexual abuse or sexual violence they have suffered. For example, we can assist with medical appointments, arranging counselling or helping people all the way through the Criminal Justice Process should they decide to report the abuse to the police. There are many ways the ISVA team can assist you, please feel free to ask for a call from one of us if you feel we may be able to help.

    Due to prior ISVA commitments such as attending Court or accompanying clients to sexual health screening, getting everyone together for a Team Award picture has proved to be a challenge! I have taken a photograph of each member of the team with the wonderful award.” Yvonne Langham, Head of ISVA Services.

    Margaretta was also nominated in the children’s ISVA category, well done Margaretta! The children’s ISVA award was named the ‘Vicky Bardsley award’ in memory of our wonderful friend and colleague. The winner of that award was Helen Leach of RASA Merseyside who has set up a children’s service from scratch.

    Thank you to Limeculture, and to those who nominated the team.

    You can read more about the ISVA service here

     

    Posted 6 October 2016
  7. ISVA Limelight awards

    Limeculture’s LimeLight Awards for outstanding ISVA support is open for nominations until Wednesday 31st August. The four awards acknowledge the outstanding contributions and achievements of individual adult ISVAs, children ISVAs, ISVA Teams and ISVA Managers who have demonstrated excellence, dedication and commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence through their work.

    Vicky and Lisa

    Vicky Bardsley (right) with RSVP CEO Lisa Thompson

    The LimeLight Children’s ISVA Award is dedicated to Vicky Bardsley,   an accredited ISVA who worked at RSVP. Vicky sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2015 leaving behind her family, many friends and her committed colleagues, and a positive legacy for the many sexually abused children and young people that she has supported.

    If you you have received excellent support from an ISVA, you can nominate them for an award, follow the link www.limeculture.co.uk to download a nomination award and cast your vote. Return your completed nominations via email to info@limeculture.co.uk

    Posted 25 August 2016
  8. New Legal Clinic for Survivors

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    Hi, my name is Yvonne Langham. I am the Head of the Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy (ISVA) Services at the Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP).

    I am delighted to announce that RSVP are hosting free Legal Clinics with lawyers Scott and Neerali from the very well known and respected, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.

    Irwin Mitchell have kindly offered to have a lawyer available for two hours a month to offer free, legal advice to any RSVP client who would benefit from this service. The Legal Clinics will be held on the last Friday of each month between 11am and 1pm at RSVP. Anyone wishing to attend can just turn up and give their name at reception, stating they are here for the Legal Clinic. No other information will be required at the reception area and a private room will be allocated for the meeting. An Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) will be on hand to offer support, however it is entirely up to the individual if they wish the ISVA to be in the meeting, or if they would sooner speak one on one with the lawyer.
    I am so pleased that the first Legal Clinic was such a great success. I look forward to seeing this new service accessed by any of RSVP clients who would benefit from good quality, free legal advice from a trusted and well established firm of Solicitors. I believe the ISVA service, which can be offered hand in hand with the Legal Clinic, will prove to be extremely useful in offering emotional and practical support to anyone who uses this exciting new service.

    Free Legal Clinics for sexual violence survivors takes place at RSVP, Grosvenor House, 14 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS on the last Friday of each month 11am-1pm. The next clinic will be Friday 29th July.

    Posted 20 July 2016
  9. New LGBT ISVA service

    RSVP and Birmingham LGBT have partnered up  with the Umbrella sexual health service to deliver a new advocacy service for the LGBT community. Bev Higgins writes about her new role as LGBT ISVA.

    I became an ISVA to help survivors to have their say, and get the help and support to overcome the impact of sexual abuse, and not face prejudice or mistreatment. As a member of the LGBT community myself and as a professional, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the impact and trauma of any sexual abuse on LGBT people. I am passionate about developing and providing this much needed service.

    WHAT IS AN LGBT ISVA?

    If you are lesbian, gay, bi, trans* and have ever experienced rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse at any point in your life the Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) now can offer you our specialist LGBT ISVA services within the Birmingham LGBT community. (*Including but not exclusive list- non binary, non cis, gender queer, MSM, androgynous, intersex, pansexual…)

    An ISVA will offer a caring and professional service providing practical advice and emotional support to those who have been directly impacted by rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse. The abuse could be recent, in the past or ongoing.

    Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse are experienced by a significant percentage of the population and are prevalent in the LGBT community too. Sexual abuse of any nature is a very hidden problem and can be an extremely difficult issue to talk about. The LGBT community often are overlooked or misunderstood and can face prejudice and extra fears around speaking to professionals and organisations when seeking help and support. Rape and abuse against LGBT people can occur in relationships, they can occur as homophobic hate-crimes, childhood sexual abuse and as sexual harassment. Research suggests that the LGBT community experiences disproportionate level of sexual violence.

    Support is available; we are here to offer you an advocacy service delivered with compassion, professionalism and humanity. We want to make a difference to you and help overcome the barriers that prevent sexual abuse survivors who identify as LGBT from getting the help and support they need.

    Our service is free and is inclusive of all sexuality and gender identities. Everyone is treated fairly, equally and with value and respect. We embrace diversity, promoting equality and human rights for all. We are passionate about helping survivors to thrive and are a user lead service. We are here for you, and so will tailor the support to your individual needs. We understand you may feel nervous getting in touch and it takes a lot of courage to take that step. We will support you every step of the way.

    How can we help?
    • Talking you through your options
    • Ensuring you can access the services and support you need
    • Offering emotional and practical support
    • Enabling you to report to the police if you decide to
    * Exploring other ways you can pass on information about the trauma you have experienced (e.g. anonymously through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre – SARC)
    • Ensuring your wellbeing, by chaperoning you on health appointments, including sexual health screenings

    What is sexual violence? 

    The term sexual violence is used as a broad term for all forms of rape and sexual abuse. Rape and sexual abuse might involve physical violence, coercion, threats and control.
    Often rape and sexual abuse is committed by people you know, such as partners, friends, family, acquaintances, and people in positions of trust. You may feel love for the person who has abused/is abusing you. You may be befriended and offered things in return for sexual acts, you could have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent you couldn’t consent. You may feel coerced or pressured into doing sexual things you don’t want to. You may be pressured/ forced into sexual acts with other people.

    Being groomed?
    Abusers can seem very charming and well liked, they will gain your trust and those around you. You may think people won’t believe you, we will. You may be terrified and living in fear, we can help.

    If you are being forced, pressured or coerced into sexual activities, you can contact us. You don’t have to suffer in silence or cope alone – we’re here for you.

    To contact the LGBT ISVA service speak to Bev via:
    Tel: 0121 643 0301 option 2
    Mob: 07535 172 052
    Email: isva@rsvporg.co.uk

    logo

    Umbrella sexual health_0

    Posted 7 June 2016
  10. Settling in as a new ISVA

    We recently appointed a number of new ISVAs to grow our advocacy service, here is a guest blog post from one of our news ISVAs, Lisa Holden.

    Hi and welcome.  I’m Lisa a new independent sexual violence advocate (ISVA) here. I wanted to write a post offering a glimpse into how I’ve settled in to my first month on the job.

    As an advocate I provide emotional and practical support to survivors of sexual violence, offering them a voice and ensuring their wishes, opinions and needs are listened to and heard. This includes informing and supporting clients through their options regarding police reporting, aiding survivors through legal and court proceedings and procedures (ensuring any special measures are requested and provided), and offering support to clients who wish to access other service providers, such as organising GUM appointments and attending with the client for moral support.

    Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the magnificence of the RSVP team. From ISVAs, managers, counsellors and administration staff, I have never found a more welcoming, caring, passionate and inspiring workforce. I not only consider myself immensely lucky to be part of such a supportive team, but I feel honoured to be working for an extremely worthy cause.

    Consequently, settling in within the tremendously fast paced ISVA office has been an easy and relaxed journey for me. Each staff member has been attentive in helping me learn both the technical and emotional aspects of my role, ensuring that I have a safe and comfortable environment to ask questions. The team always makes sure I am on the right track and regularly ask ‘how are you?’ and ‘how are you getting on?’ which has really made me feel at home.

    There are so many aspects of my job that I can already say I LOVE. The role is so varied and every day is different. One day I could be undertaking initial assessments with clients and discussing reporting procedures or undertaking an anonymous report with the police, the next I could be attending an ABE interview with a client, or going to a GUM appointment with a client.  The fact that I am responsible for my own caseload and organise my own appointments allows me to feel a sense of freedom and autonomy I haven’t felt before and this has had a massive positive effect on me.

    The organisation are also really focused on making every member of the team an expert in the field and encourage us to undertake any relevant training opportunities.  I am excited about undertaking the ISVA specialist Lime Culture accredited training, and I’m extremely enthusiastic about becoming a young person’s mental health first aider. I have also attended training on FGM and alcohol and drug abuse.

    But what I love most is my pastoral duties. Supporting and empowering clients by ensuring that they have all the right information and tools to make their own decisions is extremely rewarding. Providing clients with a safe space to explore their options and needs, as well as providing a platform for them to be heard enables them to gain back a sense of control at a time that seems completely out of control. Being the person that supports them to do that is an incredible honour.

    Learn more about the ISVA service here. You can contact us for more information or to make a referral here.

    Posted 25 May 2016

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