Agencies raise awareness of services available for victims of sexual violence

Agencies across Cumbria will this week be raising awareness and sharing information on the support available for victims of sexual violence and abuse.

The drive is part of North West Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

Each day throughout the week, information will be shared about the support available for survivors of sexual abuse by agencies or services.

The following agencies will be sharing information on their respective social media accounts during the week using the hashtag #NWSVWeek:

  • Monday: Cumbria Constabulary
  • Tuesday: Victim Support, via their Twitter account –
  • Wednesday: Cumbria Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Thursday: The Bridgeway
  • Friday: Safety Net & The Birchall Trust

Detective Chief Inspector Vicki Coombes, Cumbria Constabulary’s strategic lead for rape and serious sexual offences, said:

“This is an important opportunity for agencies to reach out to communities to ensure those who have been victim to any form of sexual violence or abuse are aware of the support services that are available to them here in Cumbria.

“Rape and sexual abuse are awful crimes that have a profound and lasting impact on victims, and there is no place for these crimes in society. We need to work together to ensure that everyone gets this message.

“As a police force, we do everything we can in order to thoroughly investigate any report we receive and ensure survivors of sexual abuse are safeguarded and afforded appropriate support. We are committed to pursuing any identified offenders and bring them to justice.

“We have specially trained officers who are experienced in investigating reports of sexual violence and abuse. We work closely with victims to ensure they are supported from the moment they contact us.

“We recognise that these crimes can be extremely difficult to speak about, which is why we also provide additional options for those that want to report to the police.

“We work closely with support agencies across Cumbria. I would encourage everybody to follow this week’s awareness campaign and would urge anyone who has been victim to a sexual offence to please report this so we can investigate and provide tailored support.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, comments:

“North West Sexual Violence Awareness week provides the opportunity to raise awareness of how people living and working in Cumbria, who have experienced sexual violence, can access local specialist support services.

“Sexual violence is happening here in Cumbria, and it is vital that we start conversations about this sensitive topic.

“Police and Crime Commissioners, police forces, local authorities and NHS England all co-ordinate the countywide support for victims of sexual violence at The Bridgeway. Their services offer specialist forensic and medical support at their Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service and also, counselling and therapeutic services that all work together to help a client who has been raped or sexually assaulted to recover.

“Sexual violence can happen to anyone at anytime and anywhere. By talking openly about sexual violence and bringing the topic to the forefront of people minds, we can spread the word and key message to victims, that help is out there and not to suffer in silence.”

Jo Birch, Head of Operations at Safety Net, said:

“Sadly, sexual violence and abuse are all too common in our society. These sorts of crimes can have a lasting negative impact on the lives of survivors, for many years to come. Safety Net provides a range of therapeutic support for people who have experienced trauma as a result of this sort of abuse, including counselling, therapy and peer support groups.

“We are pleased to be part of this year’s campaign and hope it will raise awareness and encourage more people to come forward for support.”

Donna Cardell, Manager at The Bridgeway, said:

“The Bridgeway is supportive of this campaign. Sexual violence is an awful crime, and it can affect all aspects of someone’s life and those close to them.

“At The Bridgeway SARC we are available 24 hours a day every day and offer advice for people who have experienced recent or non-recent sexual violence. For those who it’s non recent, we will always inform you of therapeutic services available and, with your consent, refer you to those services.

“If you have suffered recent sexual violence, we can arrange for you to attend the SARC for a forensic examination.

“We want people to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence. The police and sexual violence services take this seriously.”

The county’s police force has been proactive in regularly engaging with communities on issues such as sexual consent, violence against women and girls, and the feelings of safety for all people in our county.

Just last month, the force also raised awareness of information on the support available for male victims of sexual violence or abuse.

For more information, please visit:


A list of services available in your postcode area are summarised here:


If you wish to report to police you can do so online at

You can also phone on 101.

Always phone 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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