Work to support victims of sexual violence and abuse was praised by Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw during a visit to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The work is part of a Lancashire based project which places specialist workers in health settings to provide immediate support to anyone who discloses recent or historic experiences of sexual violence.
“Victims of sexual abuse can be traumatised and it can be something that stays with them for life so it is vital they get the support they need,” explained Mr Grunshaw who secured funding for this project through the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls Fund.
Mr Grunshaw added: “The work that is being done by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals to support victims of sexual violence is fantastic. Many of the people who have received support had not spoken to anyone about what happened to them previously and would not have had any help had it not been for this project.
“Supporting victims is a key priority for me and it is through projects like this that we can make a real difference to people and ensure that they can access the support that they need and deserve to help them come to terms with what has happened.”
Julie Vigo-Saunders, who is the Health Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Co-ordinator at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since I started this role I have worked hard to ensure departments across the hospital, as well as health services in the community, know I am here and how they can refer patients to me.
“I now receive referrals from A&E, hospital wards, GPs and health visitors. It is really rewarding to see referrals coming in and to be able to help people who have experience rape or sexual assault to ensure they get the support they need to deal with what happened.
“We have close links with Lancashire Victim Services and ensure that anyone affected is referred to receive ongoing support through this or other local services if they need it.”
Since Julie started in post in June 2018 she has received around 100 referrals and has helped to replicate the success of the project in Blackburn Hospital where she supervises the Health ISVA post which was established in February this year.
Mr Grunshaw said the work was life-changing for victims and he hoped the service would be replicated across Lancashire.
Hazel Gregory, Head of Safeguarding at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals said: “We are delighted to be in this privileged position to offer support to victims across Lancashire. The early data and outcomes are clearly demonstrating the value.”
To hear Mr Grunshaw talk about the scheme please click here