SARC visit strengthening support for victims and survivors

“As a survivor of sexual and domestic abuse, I feel a strong personal responsibility to tell people how they can access the help they need.”

The words of West Yorkshire’s new Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe who this week joined the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin in a joint visit to the county’s state of the art Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

Together with partners, they toured the purpose-built facility, which officially opened last year, underlining their collective commitment to victims and survivors.

Housing both Children and Adult Services under the same roof, the Hazelhurst Centre provides care and assessment for child victims and a separate service for adults where specially trained staff deliver medical help and support as required.

Jointly commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement, the building also includes a live video-link with the courts, suites for video recorded interviews, waiting rooms, a hub for specialist support services and referral to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA).

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said:

“The visit to the SARC holds particular significance to me, having previously shared my own story with the House of Commons.

“I was subject to an attempted rape during my time at University, and I know all too well the personal burden that can come with it.

“This is why this facility is so vitally important in ensuring victims and survivors can access the very best medical, practical and emotional support available.”

Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime said:

“During our visit, we were able to follow the journey of those using the facility and see for ourselves the experience of victims and survivors.

“It was really reassuring to see the dedicated and modern facilities on offer, whilst learning about the extremely sensitive and compassionate way in which the team operate.

“When it happened to me, facilities like this were not around and I did not believe that I had a voice. Here, you will be heard and your best interest are at heart.”

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said:

“SARC is a fantastic facility as it provides a safe place for victims and survivors of sexual assault to come and receive the support they need.

“We are committed to working with our partners to ensure that victims are treated sensitively and supported in the best way possible, and this facility has ensured that all the services they need, as they navigate through their ordeal, is accessible to them under one roof and we support the ongoing work that it provides.”

Julie Dhuny, Head of Health and Justice for the NHS in the North of England added:

“We are delighted to have been involved in the development of this state-of-the-art facility, developed in collaboration with victims and survivors to ensure that services are delivered to the highest clinical standards.”

To find out more about the West Yorkshire SARC visit https://www.hazlehurstcentre.org