CRASAC was commissioned by Coventry City Council in 2019 to deliver ‘a local sexual violence support service who would provide a range of services’. This included one to one and group therapy, independent sexual violence advice (ISVA), support groups, and community outreach and preventative work.
The initial contract was awarded for a period of 5 years with options to extend until 2029. At the time referrals for our counselling and ISVA services were around 800 a year. Since then, CRASAC has seen a huge increase in demand for its services with over 1500 referrals each year.
Over the period of the contract our overall income remained the same. Despite this we have worked hard to increase our capacity and reduce the waiting times for people needing to access our service.
We have shared our concerns about the length of time people were having to wait to get help and at no time during the contract period were we informed that our funding was subject to reducing waiting lists.
Access to this expertise is not something that is widely available privately or through the NHS. The NHS can offer support through IAPT, CAMHS, GPs, MIND (commissioned) and Sexual Assault Referral Centres, but non of these services work with sexual violence related trauma (including Child Sexual Abuse). The professionals working in these areas recognise that this requires specialist support in a trauma-informed setting and all of these services refer in to CRASAC.
CRASAC’s model of longer-term therapy is essential for ensuring successful outcomes for adults and children who have been subjected to rape and sexual abuse. A lesser, more diluted service would not have the same positive benefits on individuals and in many cases would actually be unsafe. Short term interventions have their place, but are not suitable when dealing with and processing trauma. This is a highly specialist area which needs to be safely contained, stabilised, and supported in a way that is safe to avoid any detrimental impacts further down the line.
One month after being notified about the end of contract we have had only one meeting with the Local Authority and Health partners to ‘map out different routes to different support’ and we strongly disagreed with the solutions being offered. We welcome the opportunity to be able to share our expertise to ensure the best possible solution for the people of Coventry and work with the Local Authority and other key partners to ensure they understand the importance of sustainably funding services for adults and children impacted by sexual violence.