• Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridge

New group for Cambridgeshire sexual assault survivors to have their say

December 21st, 2018

TO MARK its second anniversary on Friday 14th December, Cambridgeshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), The Elms in Hinchingbrooke, is asking people who have used the service to provide feedback.

A new Service User Group (The Elms SUG) is being set up to encourage survivors of sexual assault to help develop future services by Peterborough survivor and volunteer, Emily Watson.

Survivors are being invited to learn more about how they can help shape support services based on their experiences in a safe and confidential environment.

Emily, now aged 45, was sexually assaulted while away on business. The perpetrator, who was staying in the same hotel, faked his identity with a hotel night porter in order to gain access to her hotel room.

It was only the noise of the attack that alerted other guests to call for help. Emily explains:

“At the time, I was not aware of the level of support available to me from centres such as The Elms. Once I made the decision to report the crime to the police, I found myself alone and vulnerable and this only got worse as I faced the eventual court case with just my family behind me.

“It was at that point that I saw a report on the local news about support for survivors in Cambridgeshire. Knowing that there is a safe place where people who have experienced sexual violence can go to receive support prompted me to contact the SARC and offer my help so that others don’t find themselves in my situation.

“Today’s announcement is all about encouraging those who have had support through the SARC to talk through their experiences and how such support services might be enhanced. It is only by sharing our views that we can ensure no one has to cope with such devastating experiences alone.”

Led by Emily, The Elms Service User Group (SUG) is a voluntary, survivor-led forum to encourage constructive feedback. The Group is keen to attract:

  • Survivors who are at a stage in their journey where they want to provide feedback and share ideas;
  • Survivors who have the confidence to speak openly within an informal (confidential) group environment;
  • Those who want to help promote the SARC as a haven of support and sanctuary for victims of sexual violence and sexual abuse within the county.

Rachel Matheson, Manager of The Elms, explains:

“It is vital that individuals using the service are given opportunities to have their say on what is currently offered and how services can be shaped in the future.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, said:

“It is important that we continue to wrap a blanket of care around people when they are at their most vulnerable, ensuring they receive the highest quality of care and ongoing support. Today is all about ensuring services at The Elms continue to address the needs of survivors.”

Services at The Elms are provided by Mountain Healthcare Ltd who are commissioned to provide forensic healthcare services by NHS England and Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and regulated by the Care Quality Commission. The Elms services are closely supported by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership, Embrace- Child Victims of Crime, the Constabulary and the Victim and Witness Hub.

Support is available 24/7 to anyone who has experienced sexual violence and/or abuse by calling 0800 193 5434.

More information about The Elms is available online at www.theelmssarc.org. The website includes an option to hide the webpage from your browser history to enable survivors to view it without fear.

Since the SARC opened in December 2016, 565 people have been supported.



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