Laura Bates, PCC Sue Mountstevens, Rowan Miller
Supporting young people was the theme of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) annual event, which Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and founder of The Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates were invited to speak at.
Attendees also heard from Nicola Shannon, Clinical Lead Counsellor at The Bridge (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) and SARSAS Director Rowan Miller who talked about the new SARSAS film and their recently launched 1 in 5 campaign.
Speaking at the event, the PCC highlighted her priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm and her ongoing commitment to supporting young people to grow up in a world where they understand what constitutes a healthy relationship.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “Support services like SARSAS are crucial to enable victims to be safe, feel safe, cope and then recover from what has happened to them. It is a privilege to have been invited to SARSAS’ event and to speak alongside true experts in this field such as Laura, Nicola and Rowan.
“In terms of tackling these crimes I am encouraged that we are moving in the right direction but we still have a long way to go. I am very clear, that rape, exploitation and abuse are issues that we need to talk about and not keep in the shadows. We need to give confidence to victims to seek help and make clear to offenders that this cannot continue.”
PCC Sue Mountstevens recently joined Laura Bates’ campaign in signing an open letter, published in The Telegraph, calling on the government to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory in our schools.
Laura, who created The Everyday Sexism Project, aims to make people think about and take steps towards gender equality, using her website to invite people from around the world to share their instances of sexism experienced on a daily basis.
Laura Bates, who is also the Patron of SARSAS, said: “I want to praise the great work of SARSAS and everything they are doing in such a difficult climate. Their work as a specialist support service is so vital and is connected in every way with the work nationally to make sex education a statutory part of the curriculum. While we seek to address and educate on these issues they are there, at the front line responding to the effects of sexual violence and so brilliantly supporting survivors.”
SARSAS are a specialist support service for people in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset, or South Gloucestershire, who have experienced any form of sexual violence, at any point in their lives.
Some of their achievements over the past year include setting up and running the Sexual Violence Champion Training with 12 people already trained in Somerset. In addition, funded by the PCC’s Community Action Fund, men and boys now have access to a dedicated self help guide to support them after rape or sexual abuse.
SARSAS Director Rowan Miller said: “It is really important for us to have the support of the PCC. We have the highest reporting rates we have ever had in this country. There is a welcome cultural shift with more survivors coming forward for vital support; the funding is not matching this need and our waiting lists are getting longer.
“We work in collaboration with a number of agencies very successfully for the benefit of all survivors of sexual violence and look forward to further developing and maintaining these relationships.”
For more information or to contact SARSAS visit www.sarsas.org.uk. To share your examples of everyday sexism visit www.everydaysexism.com. For more information or to contact the Bridge visit www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk
Posted on Wednesday 9th November 2016