Essex

Rape crisis centre in Essex receives funding boost

Anonymous rape victim
Image caption The south Essex charity has been helping victims of sexual crime for more than 25 years

A rape support charity in Essex says its future has been secured for the next few years following a £180,000 grant from the Ministry of Justice.

The South Essex Rape & Incest Centre (SERICC) has been given the money as part of a £9.8m fund for groups who deal with vulnerable victims of crime.

Director, Sheila Coates, said the money was vital for the centre which covers Brentwood, Thurrock and Basildon.

She said: "It means we stay open, we stay doing what we do."

In the last financial year the centre's helpline took more than 8,500 calls and undertook more than 2,500 face-to-face counselling and 2,500 advocacy sessions.

The £60,000 each year will go towards running costs, but Mrs Coates said they relied on a variety of funding to keep open.

'Eternal lobbying'

She said: "We have experienced cuts, so obviously this money replaces some of the money we've already lost and some of the money we think we may lose next year and the year after."

She said getting money for voluntary organisations was "very complicated", with grants often lasting for just a year.

"The new fund is for three years, so we're very pleased about that and it releases everybody from this eternal lobbying and shouting.

"If society was aware of how difficult it is for victims to access services they would be horrified.

"Most people come to us thinking that services are available for everyone and everything is fully funded because of the seriousness of the issue but that is just not the case," she said.

SERIC was one of two crisis centres in the county to receive money from the government initiative.

The Colchester-based Centre for Action on Rape & Abuse (CARA) will get a total of £135,00 over the next three years.

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