Nick Herbert visits local rape crisis centre
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert paid a visit to the LifeCentre in Chichester on Friday afternoon (25 April).
The LifeCentre:SUST (Support for Unwanted Sexual Trauma) provides confidential counselling and support for men, women and children who have experienced sexual violation at some time in their lives.
Mr Herbert was given a tour of the centre by Director Maggie Ellis. He also had an opportunity to meet and chat with staff and volunteers who work at the centre.
LifeCentre:SUST is a registered charity and was started in 2001 in response to the lack of services available in West Sussex for ‘survivors' of sexual offences.
Counselling is provided by telephone or face-to-face at venues in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Worthing. In February, LifeCentre launched a ‘slimline' version of the service in Brighton.
The centre accepts self-referring individuals along with people referred to them by GPs, Social Services, the Police and other professional agencies.
Most clients live in West Sussex but, in some cases, the service is provided to residents of Hampshire and East Sussex. The telephone helplines take calls from across the country.
The centre also employs a part-time education officer who visits schools and colleges to engage in preventative work with young people.
Maggie Ellis said: "We value the interest taken by Nick Herbert in our service which is under huge demand. Much needs to be done to provide sustainable funding for vital services such as ours and to address the ways in which the criminal justice system is so often failing survivors of sexual crimes. We are heavily dependent on charitable donations. Without these, we would be unable to provide the specialist help so desperately needed."
Nick Herbert, who in his role as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice is leading a review into the sentencing of rapists, commented: "I was very grateful to Maggie and her staff for taking the time to tell me about what they do."
Mr Herbert added: "The value of this kind of behind-the-scenes service cannot be overestimated. We do need to ensure that rape crisis centres like this have the stability of funding to ensure that they can maintain their important work."
Notes for Editors
1. For the website of LifeCentre:SUST, visit http://www.lifecentre.uk.com/
2. The LifeCentre offers an under 18s Helpline on freephone 0800 279 7273 (Mondays & Wednesdays from 3.30pm to 5.30pm). The adult Helpline is available on 01243 779196 (Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays from 7.30pm to 10pm).