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Gloucestershire Care Services’ Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) has expanded its service to improve accessibility for people affected by rape or sexual assault in need of help and support.

Based at Hope House, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, the SARC is available 24/7, 365 days a year, to provide victims of rape or sexual assault, their friends and families, with access to emotional, psychological, medical and practical help.

Those seeking help and advice can do so by using the dedicated helpline which is available at all times out of hours for advice or self-referral, or they can get in touch via email.

Emma Twydell, SARC Manager, said: “Often the first step of making contact with the service is the most challenging. Those seeking our help can be assured that all the support and advice we offer is completely free and totally confidential, and they do not have to report the matter to the police.”

Those visiting the SARC for the first time are met on arrival by one of the centre’s specially-trained crisis workers, whereupon they are taken to a private room where they can speak confidentially about what has happened and discuss the options available to them.

The Crisis Team understands that every person who visits the centre has been through a major trauma and personal crisis and are trained to listen, help alleviate any concerns, answer any questions and provide information; giving the person time to absorb and reflect on the information they are given so that they can be sure they understand and can make informed choices about their care.

Depending on when the sexual assault took place, the SARC can offer a forensic medical examination to collect evidence, which is carried out by a specially-trained doctor or nurse. If a person is unsure or not ready to report the assault to the police, forensic evidence can still be collected and stored by the SARC for up to two years.

“If a person decides to have a forensic medical examination then the crisis worker will stay with them throughout the process,” said Emma.

“Whatever a person decides, we will always put their needs first and help facilitate the choices they make about their care. They can also discuss any emergency contraception needs – this may be important if no contraception was used at all, or if a contraceptive method has failed.”

As well as expanding its service, Hope House SARC has launched a new website which provides lots of information about what the service does and how it can assist those in need of help and support.

To find out more about Hope House SARC, visit the website at www.hopehousesarc.nhs.uk

You can also

• Call the Hope House SARC Crisis Team 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on 0300 421 8400
• Email them at hopehousesarc@glos-care.nhs.uk