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National Helpline celebrates 10 years

Today the Rape Crisis National Helpline celebrates 10 years of supporting people affected by sexual violence.
The service was launched and started taking calls on 11th October 2007, and since that time has responded to over 41,000 contacts from people looking for support and information about sexual violence. Most of these (almost 36,000) were calls, with over 5000 of the remaining contacts coming in by email. The National Helpline is committed to providing as accessible a service as possible, and has undertaken a number of developments in the past 10 years to improve accessibility. The helpline offers confidential support and information to service users by email as well as over the phone, and a Deaf access service is available every Tuesday afternoon, with enhanced access via online BSL interpreter through Contact Scotland BSL as well as by SMS text. This service was launched in 2009 and since then all volunteers and staff have undergone deaf awareness training prior to staffing the helpline.

The development of multi lingual and translated support materials in partnership working with BME women’s organisations and the availability of language interpreting services to promote services to different community groups also took the helpline a significant step forward in improving accessibility. All helpline staff and volunteers receive training in relation to BME access, Forced Marriage and FGM awareness prior to staffing the helpline.

The National Helpline also works in partnership with Rape Crisis Centres across Scotland to develop a support pathway from the national service towards on-going local support. In partnership with Police Scotland, the helpline also provides an automatic referral for survivors of sexual crimes who wish to access support and information following reporting. This process includes gathering anonymised feedback from service users on their experience of reporting. The feedback is provided to Police Scotland to inform developments in their training and practice in relation to sexual crimes.

The National Helpline has developed a wide range of support resources over the years, including one for LGBTI survivors of sexual violence. This is underpinned by twice weekly ‘badged’ access sessions on the helpline and informed by partnership work with LGBTI organisations, including the training of helpline staff and volunteers towards the attainment of the silver Chartermark promoting LGBTI access.

A forthcoming conference, 'Supporting Survivors and Working for Change' will mark this anniversary and will take place at the National Youth Theatre in Glasgow on November the 9th. Three new short films celebrating the role of volunteers, showing some of the highlights from the past 10 years, and letting survivors know what they can expect when they get in touch with the helpline, will be launched at this conference. There are still tickets available for this event - you can book yours at https://is.gd/mIPHc8.

Rape Crisis Scotland is delighted that the National Helpline has reached this significant milestone in its development, and would like to thank all of the workers who have supported and contributed to its development.

Most importantly we would like to thank all of the survivors, friends, relatives and workers who have used our service.

Tags: helpline
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