LimeCulture Launches new group ‘Network of ISVAs’

Today, Friday 25 October, saw LimeCulture launch a new group on facebook especially for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). The new facebook group, named ‘Network of ISVAs’ can be found by clicking here

The purpose of the Network of ISVAs is a private space where ISVAs can chat with their peers. The description for the group reads: ‘The aim of this group is to bring together Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). This group is a place where ISVAs can ask questions, discuss and share ideas and experiences, help one another and learn from each other. Whether ISVA services are located in the Voluntary and Community Sector, SARCs or Statutory Agencies, the ISVAs play an integral role in providing support and responding to those who have been raped on sexually assaulted. For this reason, ISVAs are an important workforce and this group is intended as a place where ISVAs can network’.

LimeCulture is a huge supporter of ISVAs and the work that they do in support of victims of sexual violence. We have been campaigning to central government for more support for the ISVA workforce. This has resulted in Home Office funding being made available to pay for accredited training for some ISVAs, but there is still more to be done. Following a range of discussions with ISVAs (including a series of focus groups in 2012, 5 cohorts of ISVAs that have undertaken the LimeCulture ISVA Development Programme and Knowledge and Network: An Event for ISVAs in April 2013), one of the things LimeCulture are most concerned about is the isolation and lack of peer support that a number of ISVAs have reported. This cannot be allowed to continue. The jobs of ISVAs are hard enough without them feeling isolated and alone on top of what they do. They deserve to be able to access support from their peers, seek advice and learn from the experiences of other people doing the same job. Surely?!

LimeCulture have been lobbying the Home Office to support them to establish a National Network for ISVAs, but as yet have received no response to the proposal. Although the Sexual Violence Against Children and Vulnerable People Action Plan does contain an action at point 15 to support the establishment of an ‘ISVA national network’.  So although disappointed in the lack of response from the Home Office to support the establishment of this National Network, we remain determined to continue to support the ISVA workforce. Therefore, as an interim solution, we have established the Network for ISVAs in the hope that the ISVAs will find this facebook group a useful tool to get in contact with each other.

It is the hope of LimeCulture that the ISVAs will run this group themselves, free from the politics surrounding their role and many of their organisations, and use it to post ideas, suggestions, solutions and chat to other ISVAs from different parts of the country. Lets see how it goes. If it works, then hopefully we can demonstrate to the Home Office the need for a formal National Network of ISVAs afterall!

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Working hard to improve the awareness of the role of ISVAs in the Court Room

LimeCulture has been working hard over the last 2 years to drive up standards for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). Having trained over 80 ISVAs, we are huge supporters of this workforce and we are committed to ensuring that the profile of the ISVA is raised to enable them to support victims effectively.

Over the last few months a number of ISVAs have contacted LimeCulture to ask whether there was anything that could be done to improve their lot at court. Some ISVAs told us how difficult they had found it to support their clients when they gave evidence because of Judges, barristers, ushers and members of the witness service challenging the right of the ISVA to carry out this role. This is in spite of the fact that Achieving Best Evidence 2011 explicitly states that this is a function that the ISVA can undertake, provided they have been properly trained. The consequence of this is that there are a number of victims of sexual violence who are not being properly supported, even though they have an ISVA who should be able to support them.

LimeCulture was shocked by the number of ISVAs who have reported this to be an issue for them and decided that something has to be done to raise the profile of the ISVA role amongst other professionals, to enable them to do their jobs effectively, and makes sure that they are not blocked by professionals who do not understand their roles and responsibilities. Therefore, LimeCulture raised this matter with officials at the Ministry of Justice and the HM Courts and Tribunal Service to see what could be done. Following a productive meeting with the officials,  we are pleased to say that the MoJ and HMCTS were very supportive of the ISVA role. Since the meeting, we have kept in touch with them and numerous emails later,  we have today learned that HMCTS are keen to ensure that information about ISVAs – their roles and responsibilities – will be included in the material that is available to people working in the court service.

LimeCulture has also been in discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ask that they ensure that their lawyers and caseworkers are clear about both the role of the court supporter and the right of the ISVA to act as one. We will keep you updated on progress.

While there is still a long way to go to ensure that the role of the ISVA is properly understood and supported in every single case, LimeCulture believe that by improving the knowledge of those working in the court service, this development should go a long way to increase the awareness of the support that can and should be provided by ISVAs.

However,  ISVAs themselves may want to be proactive. There are things that ISVAs can do to help ensure that they are given the opportunity to carry out this vital role in supporting their client at court. A few practical steps are listed below:

  • Make sure you are named as the witness supporter on the special measures application (assuming this is what your client wants!)
  • Ask the police to keep you updated with the outcome of the application
  • If the application is granted and you are named as the witness supporter, check that the court (ie Ushers and the Witness Service) are aware of this when you attend court for the pre-trial visit.
  • Check again on the day of the trial when you arrive at court. This should be done through the CPS. If there is any attempt to change the decision on the day of the trial, then OBJECT
  • Use all of the above as evidence to support your objection.

LimeCulture would be keen to hear from ISVAs about their experiences in the court room. Please contact us by email


LimeCulture begins training our 5th cohort of ISVAs tomorrow (2 October 2013). For further information about the training available for ISVAs please visit our website

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