Accessibility Options

Counselling project helps 400 young victims to recover from abuse in its first year

THE equivalent of more than 12 school rooms of children and young people received free counselling in 2018/19 to help them recover from sexual and domestic abuse thanks to a countywide support service.

Launched in April 2017, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Prevention and Intervention service is funded through a successful partnership bid by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and local authority to the Home Office’s VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) Transformation Fund.

The project tackles the adverse childhood experiences of young victims and witnesses, aged 13-19 (24 with additional needs), of domestic and sexual abuse through community-based trauma-informed counselling. It also supports young people who use violence and abuse as a result of being themselves traumatised or victims of other types of abuse.

The service is delivered by the locally-based national charity Embrace – Child Victims of Crime (CVOC), under the banner Time4U. The charity works in partnership with the Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership who deliver counselling services to young survivors as part of the project and the county’s Youth Offending Service to ensure young people receive the right support for them.

Anne Campbell, Chief Executive, Embrace CVOC explains: “Time4U allows us to provide wrap around care to those supported through the programme. We have also used charitable funds to extend the remit in a creative and innovative way. From providing equine therapy to help build confidence in young victims, to using trainee therapists to provide free counselling therapy for parents which helps heal the whole family, I am pleased to see so many young people supported and reporting positive outcomes.”

Jane is a north Cambridgeshire resident whose two daughters, aged 16 and 19, have benefited from the Time4U service

Jane’s youngest daughter was the subject of a serious sexual assault which was not reported to police. This led to her feeling powerless, angry and afraid. Her eldest daughter too was impacted by the crime, feeling that she had been unable to protect her sister. Through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre both girls were referred to Time4U and placed with separate specialist counsellors. They received counselling over a number of weeks and, as a direct result, both now report feeling in control, more self-aware, and able to move on from what has happened.

The partnership model also enables a small number of survivors of sexual violence already engaged with the Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership to have the choice to continue their recovery journey within their counselling services rather than being referred into Embrace.

Norah Al-Ani, Director of Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership explains: “This project has enabled us to provide much needed safe and protected space and time for young people whose lives have been impacted by the experience of sexual violence. The specialist counselling we have delivered has enabled young people to begin to re-build their lives, take back control of their decision making and to go on to flourish and thrive and live the lives they choose. It has been a privilege to work with young survivors, to have them trust us with their stories and to invite us to travel alongside them on their journey to recovery.”

18 year old Mina was referred to CAPRCP for counselling after being raped by an acquaintance.

Mina was referred to counselling by her college pastoral support tutor. She had been raped by an acquaintance at a party and hadn’t felt able to tell anyone about it at the time. She felt confused and alone; her schoolwork was impacted and she had withdrawn socially because she felt too scared to go out with friends in case it happened again. In a routine meeting with her Tutor she couldn’t stop crying and disclosed that she had been assaulted. She wasn’t able to talk to her about what had happened because she felt too ashamed.

Issues of consent and sex and relationships had not been discussed either in Mina’s home or friendship group. Consequently, Mina was unable to understand what happened to her. She was offered counselling to initially help her understand some of her emotions, by exploring the thoughts and feelings she had about the attack. Having the confidence to use the term ‘rape’ was a big moment for her and provided her with a sense of control that had been previously denied her.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite says:

“Reaching so many vulnerable children and young people in just one year shows just how innovative this partnership approach has been. I often talk about how important it is to work together to prevent situations from escalating out of control.

“This project is a great example where we can make sure the right support is provided at the right time, so that young people have the opportunity to live safer and brighter futures.”