History and Background to Devon Rape Crisis Service
There was a previous Rape Crisis helpline in Exeter but it closed some years ago due to lack of funding, as many vital women's services did unfortunately.
When the present coalition government came to power in 2010, one of the very first commitments they made was to increase the availability of support to survivors of rape and sexual violence through opening up 15 new Rape Crisis Centres over the course of the parliament. Devon was one of the first of these to open up in 2011 after the Ministry of Justice provided start-up funding for three years. The Trustees were initially made up of members if Fawcett Devon with skills and interests in the area and they set our foundations by adopting a constitution, finding an office base and recruiting the paid staff.
The Staff team of three started in the summer of 2011 and by the autumn, volunteers were being trained by our sister rape crisis organisation from Cornwall, publicity was being designed and policy and procedure were being developed. By the time the telephone helpline opened for business in December 2011, we had a group of skilled volunteers, an effective supervision and support structure and a safe and professional service. Whew!
Since that first, hectic 6 months, the pace hasn't slackened much as there is so much to do to build and develop a quality organisation offering high-quality services. We have since;
- developed our own, in-house training programme, had this accredited by the Open College Network and trained a further 6 cohorts of volunteer support workers
- expanded the staff team from 3 to 9 workers and our services to include counselling and EMDR
- opened two new offices in Torquay and Barnstaple and sourced safe and accessible venues to do our support work in 23 places around the county
- developed our systems for evaluating the impact of our services for women
- expanded our service to include counselling for young people
- achieved the Rape Crisis (England and Wales) National Service Standards
- expanded and developed out Board of Trustees and held three Awaydays for the whole organisation to plan for our future