Rape Crisis England & Wales has become the first organisation in the voluntary sector to win a significant government contract for workforce development, to increase and improve service provision for sexual violence survivors.
The new contract shows national recognition for Rape Crisis and their expert services, which include specialist advocacy, support and counselling for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The contract has been awarded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The Employer Leadership Project will run for three years, training and accrediting professionals to work across the sexual violence sector.
Lee Eggleston, Chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said:
“This contract demonstrates that the issue of sexual violence has risen up the political agenda and it is very encouraging to see government and policy makers begin to understand the full implications and needs of those who have been affected by it.
The government has chosen Rape Crisis to work as the lead organisation in specialist skills development within the sexual violence sector because of our extensive experience and our status as the expert service provider for women and girl survivors.
It’s poignant that this announcement comes during the annual 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women and girls.”
The Employer Leadership Project acknowledges that the needs of women and girls affected by sexual violence merit greater attention and funding.
It will support the training of those already providing specialist services in Rape Crisis member organisations, as well as investing in a future generation of counsellors, advocates and other professionals.
With demand for specialist services at an all-time high, the grant aims to increase the number of trained staff and volunteers, and ensure high quality services nationwide.
Last year, the Rape Crisis England & Wales network answered more than 150,000 helpline calls and provided ongoing specialist services to 43,000 individual survivors of sexual violence.
Simon Perryman, Executive Director for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said:
“Last week, UKCES launched the Growth Through People report, which affirmed that employers should lead on skills and government should enable them. That is exactly what this project is all about.
The Employer Leadership Project, co-funded by UKCES and lead by Rape Crisis, will increase the number of highly skilled Rape Crisis staff across the UK, and ensure consistency in the quality and level of training provided to staff and volunteers in this specialist sector.
The demand for these skills is clear, so the funding is very important – both in terms of direct service provision in the immediate term and capacity building for the future – to ensure that survivors of sexual violence have access to the highest quality support and advice.”
The UKCES contract is a government seal of approval, cementing Rape Crisis’ position as the leader in specialist support services for sexual violence survivors.
Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan said:
“All violence against women and girls is completely reprehensible and the government is committed to ending it and there is still more to do.
Rape Crisis has been given this funding to continue their essential work to support sexual violence survivors.”