Posted: Wednesday 9th March 2016
My name is Debbie Naylor and I am an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Team Leader at Safelink, where I have worked since the service started in February 2009. Safelink provides an independent and victim focused support service and our ethos is to believe all victims. We will support them to try cope with what has happened which in turn will help them on their road to recovery.
At present, the ISVA team consists of nine workers including myself and we provide support to women, men, children and young people around both recent and non-recent cases of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assaults. We can provide support to victims whether they wish to report to the police or not and we aim to contact each referral within 24 hours.
I am proud to say that Safelink has been running for over seven years now and to date has supported over 4000 men, women and children.Ways in which we help victims include supporting them with reporting to the police, which can also include reporting anonymously. We can speak to the police on behalf of the victim and we offer support around video interviews and with dealing involving the Crown Court.
Other ways in which we support the victim include arranging pre-trial visits of the courts and discussing special measures where necessary. We also are the key point of liaison with officers, the Witness Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. On conclusion of the trial or investigation we also liaise with Criminal Injury Claims.
As a service our aim is to empower victims to put their lives together, providing ongoing help, support and advice when and where needed. This can also including preparing the victims’ family particularly in relation to verdicts as part of the court process. We offer support around both guilty and not guilty verdicts and help everyone involved in the process reflect on what’s happened.
We can also advocate on behalf of a victim by talking to employers, universities and schools for the victim, if they are struggling with their attendance due to what has happened to them. We can offer victims a safe place to talk about what has happened to them and give them valuable information on other services that can also offer them support.
The ISVA service provides a holistic approach to support. We can also signpost to other agencies where it is needed, such as: counselling, housing, pregnancy advisory service, mental health and sexual health clinics etc.
The ISVA service was thrilled to receive three year’s funding from the PCC, which has allowed the service to feel more secure. The new service started on 1st April 2015 and shortly after PCC Sue Mountstevens and Alice Jones from her team came to visit us. Their time with us was really successful and there was hardly a dry eye in the house after two young victims spoke about the support that they had received from SAFE Link and how it had changed their lives.
The launch of the new Safelink service means that we are now able to work from police hubs. These include: Kenneth Steele House, New Bridewell, Concorde House, Express Park and Keynsham. We’re really excited about this as it means that we can work even closer with our colleagues within the Police and Lighthouse Integrated Victim Care teams.
For more information about Safelink visit www.safelinksupport.co.uk
ISVA Team Leader, Safelink