Helpline: 01392 204 174

Rape and sex abuse victims will be given the support they need when the county's first rape crisis centre is launched.

Devon Rape Crisis Services has set up the centre to provide support services for sex crime victims, thanks to Government funding.

The new service will be officially opened by Totnes Tory MP Sarah Wollaston on Monday, November 28.

She has been a key figure who pushed for central Government money and successfully lobbied the Ministry of Justice for financial support.

The new service will provide a confidential and anonymous telephone helpline and face-to-face support. There will also be support for partners, friends or relatives.

Although the main hub will be based in Exeter, there will be outreach services across the county.

Devon has, until recently, only had a helpline service for victims of sexual violence based in Exeter, operating for three evenings a week.

DRCS will be complementing this service and adding more choices for women across the whole county, including outreach and education services.

Dr Wollaston said: "I am sure that this new service for all those who have been victims of sexual violence will help anyone struggling to move on from these deeply traumatic crimes.

"I know, as a former police surgeon and GP, that victims find these horrific experiences difficult to talk about, even to their closest friends and family."

"Having a confidential service from people who truly understand is essential and long overdue for Devon."

The vision for a centre has finally been realised after Fawcett Devon, a local gender equality campaigning group, gained support from Devon MPs and county councillors, the Gender Equality Society of Exeter University for a Devon centre.

The Government announced a £10.5million package of dedicated funding, over three years, to help put existing rape support centres on a stable, financial footing.

It is part of a wider £29.4million package to support the most seriously affected, vulnerable and persistently targeted victims and witnesses.

Up to $600,000 is being allocated to new support centres in Exeter as well as Trafford, Hereford and Bournemouth.

Devon Rape Crisis Service chairman Linda Regan said: "I'm delighted that the vision of a rape crisis centre for Devon has finally been realised."

"We know that more than 600 women report rape or sexual assault to the police in Devon each year but there could be as many as 3,000 assaults unreported."

"The new centre will provide a dedicated service through a helpline and face-to-face support throughout the county - the first such service in Devon."

Devon Rape Crisis Services worked with police, NHS, local authorities and the Exeter-based Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

The new service will begin by running the helpline (01392 204174) on Mondays from 3pm to 6pm, Fridays from 2pm to 5pm and Saturdays from 11am and 2pm. The hours will increase to 20 a week.

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