Hope House SARC received a virtual visit yesterday (Friday 26 November) from Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Chris Nelson and Deputy PCC Nick Evans.
Following a virtual tour of the sexual assault referral centre by SARC Service Manager David Howe, Sexual Health Services Manager Emma Twydell joined David in answering their questions about the service and the support it provides to victims of rape and sexual assault.
They explained how the SARC, which is based at Hope House, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, provides male and female victims of rape or sexual assault, their friends and families, access to emotional, psychological, medical and practical help. The service can be accessed via the police and other professionals, or those seeking support can contact the SARC directly via the dedicated helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
During their virtual visit the PCC and Deputy PCC learned that, depending on when the sexual assault took place, the SARC can offer a forensic medical examination to collect evidence; with David explaining that 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.
“Whatever a person decides, their needs are always first and foremost and they will be supported in making choices 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,” he said.
“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.”
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 www.hopehouse.nhs.uk/sarc
The SARC Crisis Team can be contacted for confidential advice on 0300 421 8400, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.