Hampshire (where CIS’ters was established in 1995 and maintains our small office)
ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Project
In addition to providing emotional support to survivors, we also undertake awareness work. This is focused on the existence and impact of sexual abuse on child victims and adult survivors.
During 2018-2019 we chose the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for the awareness subject, as this helped us to highlight that sexual abuse rarely happens in isolation, there are usually many more dynamics within the family environment that provide opportunities for sexual abuse to occur. During 2020 we had anticipated continuing the ACE awareness work, but the COVID pandemic meant we had to put it on hold.
If you want to know more about ACEs, click on this link Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) from our website.
Access to and Improvement of Services
We are an active member of two strategic partnership boards/committees. The first is a long standing initiative by the police to improve strategically, policies and practice for victims of any sexual crime who report this to the police.
The second is a recent request to join an NHS team (management and operational) reviewing the ongoing performance of the SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) that is located in Hampshire --www.solent.nhs.uk/treetops/
Contact details for SARCs located elsewhere in the country can be found at: www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/
National – Direct Awareness Work
This is a Coventry University led research project exploring what is best practice within SARCs (Sexual Assault Referral Centres). We have a representative on the Committee leading the work. More can be seen about the project here: mesarch.coventry.ac.uk/whats-our-project-about/
We have a representative on the lived experience group linked to NHS England’s National Strategy on improving victim/survivor experiences of statutory and other specialist services. You can read/download the strategy here: www.england.nhs.uk/publication/strategic-direction-for-sexual-assault-and-abuse-services/
We have a representative on a CPS led CSA Stakeholder Forum which was established in recent years. A strategic group with a wide representation from the specialist sector and cross government.
APPG Survivors of CSA
This is an All Party Parliamentary Group, focused on Adult Survivors of CSA - www.appgsurvivorscsa.co.uk/ - we have regularly taken part in meetings and contributions have been made to documents such as: www.appgsurvivorscsa.co.uk/infosupportsurvivors
National Consultations – Direct Participation
We have regularly taken part in various national consultations and continue to do so. Set out below are some examples:
- Current: CPS public consultation on the latest draft version of guidance for pre-trial therapy which is updating the current guidelines. This consultation opened on 30th July and closes on 30th October 2020. A copy of the draft document is available at www.cps.gov.uk/consultation/public-consultation-guidance-pre-trial-therapy
- Prior: We have taken part in consultations undertaken by The Children’s Commissioner for England such as their report on CSA within a family environment www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/report/protecting-children-from-harm/
- Prior: We also took part in the development of guidelines produced by the National Institute for Clinical Guidelines on Child Abuse and Neglect www.nice.org.uk/about/nice-communities/social-care/child-abuse-neglect-guidance
- Prior: ‘Women’s Mental Health: Into The Mainstream’ was a document produced in 2002 and highlighted many of the inequalities that continue to exist. It is worth reading the document webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Closedconsultations/DH_4075478 and the final report outcomes webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100407211051/http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Responsestoconsultations/DH_4077713
- Prior: ‘Ongoing: Ending Violence Against Women and Girls’ assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522166/VAWG_Strategy_FINAL_PUBLICATION_MASTER_vRB.PDF
- Ongoing: we have taken part in the early stages of development of the national inquiry into the institutional response to sexual abuse – and the initial establishment of IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) https://www.iicsa.org.uk/ . We know that an increasing number of our members have taken part in the associated Truth Project www.truthproject.org.uk/about-the-truth-project
National Umbrella Organisation – The Survivors Trust
Not many know that CIS’ters was one of six organisations that created The Survivors Trust. In 1999/2000 it was hit and miss whether victims and survivors could find the support to help them recover from the trauma of sexual violence and abuse. Most specialist services worked in isolation and there were no regional or national funding streams for support. Centres struggled to find the resources they needed themselves and many closed as a result of lack of funding.
At that time the Manager from CIS’ters and leads from five other small charities began to meet up regularly in London to offer each other peer support and encouragement, plus advice on managing trauma services. Then in early 2001 a decision was taken to open up the group to others who could become ‘Organisational Members’. The focus of The Survivors Trust (TST) was to continue to provide peer led support to Organisational Members but also, as numbers grew into a credible national umbrella organisation, to provide a ‘National Voice’ on behalf of those specialist services.
The Survivors Trust is led by a National Executive Committee comprising representatives from front line services drawn from Organisational Members. CIS’ters continues to be an Organisational Member and at various times in the intervening years has been part of the NEC (The National Executive Committee). As of August 2020, The Survivors Trust is the largest umbrella agency for specialist rape and sexual abuse services in the UK and provides support to an incredible number of member agencies.
As part of The Survivors Trust role, Fay Maxted OBE (the Chief Executive Officer of TST) and other members of her Management Team regularly meet with Government Ministers/others to highlight the needs of the specialist sector and to present a core understanding of the issues facing victim/survivors of sexual crimes.
An example of the work undertaken by The Survivors Trust on behalf of Organisational Members has been to attend meetings with government ministers and officials and highlight issues affecting specialist services and their service users during the COVID lockdown. Click on the link to read The Prime Ministers Virtual Summit on Hidden Harms Virtual Summit on Hidden Harms