Ipswich: New centre for victims of sexual violence opens

A NEW one-stop shop for the victims of sexual violence, the first of its kind in Suffolk, has opened in Ipswich today.

The Ferns, a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) was officially opened by Baroness Vivien Stern, author of the Stern review into how rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England and Wales.

The centre offers victims the opportunity to have a medical examination and seek help and support, including counselling without an obligation to report the incident to the police.

From early 2011 the centre will be fully operational, open 24 hours a day and offers support to men, women and children.

Victims will be able to refer themselves to The Ferns by dialling the helpline or they can be referred to the centre by support or health agencies.

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Marianne Fellowes, the domestic abuse and sexual violence projects team manager at Suffolk police, who has led the team in setting up the centre said they are “excited” to be providing the new facility in Suffolk

“It is about offering different choices. Not everyone wants to involve police, especially if they have been raped by someone who knows them.,” she said. “We offer support and safety planning all the choices are explained to victims.

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“It is about them regaining control and making informed choices.

“The priority for police, health services and support agencies is the welfare of victims, and we are acutely aware that a large number of victims of this type of offence do not seek the help they need for a variety of reasons.

“Opening a facility such as The Ferns, presents new options to all victims and welcomes them into a supportive environment that is not police-led, but offers police assistance and investigation should they desire this.”

The new state-of-the-art facility will run alongside the new Suffolk Rape Crisis service and will be run in partnership with Suffolk police, NHS Suffolk, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Suffolk County Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, Victim Support and other voluntary organisations.

Inquiries about The Ferns can be made to the SARC supervisor Lynn Ambrose on 01473 668990 or by e-mail to contact@theferns-suffolk.org.uk until the helpline goes live in the New Year.

For more information visit www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk.

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