LimeLight Awards: Open for Nominations

LimeCulture CIC is delighted to be hosting the 3rd Knowledge & Network Event for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) on Thursday 28 September 2017. This major event for ISVA Services will be taking place in Manchester.

It is becoming widely recognised that ISVAs play an integral role in providing support and responding to those who have been raped or sexually assaulted. ISVAs have much to share about how to provide the best possible services regardless of whether they are located in the Third Sector, Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) or Statutory Agencies. ISVAs are part of an important workforce that is increasing in size and recognition. This major event will bring together professionals to share knowledge and provide a unique opportunity to network with other members of the ISVA workforce.

At last year’s National ISVA Conference, chaired by Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, LimeCulture introduced the LimeLight Awards to provide professional recognition for the amazing work that is undertaken by ISVAs throughout the UK. LimeCulture is keen to ensure that the outstanding contributions and achievements of these professionals who have demonstrated excellence, dedication and commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence through their work as ISVAs continue to be properly recognised through the LimeLight Awards.

There are 4 LimeLight Awards, divided into three categories:

  • Awards for an Individual ISVA (2 separate awards)
  • Award for an ISVA Team
  • Award for an ISVA Manager

Anyone can nominate an individual ISVA, an ISVA Manager or an ISVA Team or Service by simply completing a nomination form- you can also nominate yourself or your own team. Nominations open on 7 June and close on 31 August 2017.

LimeLight Awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Knowledge & Network: An Event for ISVAs on Thursday 28 September 2017. More information about how to nominate can be found by clicking here

For more information about last year’s LimeLight Awards and the inspirational winners of each category please click here



Knowledge & Network will include a topical range of speakers, workshops and designated time to network and meet peers. The focus of the event will be aimed at improving operational responses and ISVA practices. The event should be viewed as continued professional development.

To book your place please click here

Supporting male survivors of sexual violence: Call for services to participate in Consultation

Are you a specialist sexual violence service supporting males? Would you be interested in sharing your experiences, views and suggestions with LimeCulture CIC as part of an exciting new project focusing on the support available to men and boys who have experienced sexual violence? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

LimeCulture CIC has been commissioned by the Male Survivors Partnership to develop new service standards for services providing support to males. This 2-year project has recently been funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

Training & DevelopmentAs part of the development of the new service standards, LimeCulture is keen to consult with services providing support to males to seek the views of a range of specialist providers about what support is available to men and boys and how it should be delivered.

We are planning to carry out a series of interviews and focus groups with services providing support to males throughout June and early July 2017. We are keen to involve a range of services and are looking for services who would be willing to take part in this aspect of the project.

We are particularly interested in hearing from services that provide the following support to males:

  • 1:1 psychological support
  • Group work/peer support
  • ISVA support
  • Helpline support
  • Forensic medical services (including medical and crisis worker support)

Please note – the services involved in this aspect of the project are not required to be dedicated male-only support services. We would like to seek the views from a range of services that allow males to access their services.

Involvement in the project

  • LimeCulture staff will come to your service to carry out the interviews/focus groups (so that your staff don’t need to travel).
  • Interviews/focus groups will be carried out in a single day (or less if you are a small service)
  • A range of staff must be available to speak to our staff (this will depend on how your service is delivered so we’ll discuss this with you before we arrive!)

Ideally, we would like to speak to a range of staff members within your service, so please ensure that you have agreement from management to take part in this project before putting your service forward!

If your service would like to be included in the schedule of interviews, please contact Tom Leavesley, Project Manager, LimeCulture no later than Friday 26 May 2017

Please drop Tom an email telling him the name of your service, where you are located and what type of support is available to males at your service.

We hope to involve between 6-8 services in this consultation but this will depend on the number of services who volunteer to be involved in the consultation. It is important to note, that it may not be possible to involve every service that volunteers.

A week in the life of LimeCulture Core Team

Here at LimeCulture, our Core Team is busy. There are nine of us that make up the Core Team (Tom, our newest team member, joined us this week!) and we all have dedicated roles and clear responsibilities. Our jobs are different and are based entirely on our professional backgrounds, skills and expertise. We are stretched because of the sheer volume of work that comes to LimeCulture but, we know that we are lucky because the work is exciting and varied…and anyway, isn’t everyone busy in this field??!!

Since LimeCulture was launched in 2011, our team has steadily increased along with our workloads. Our reputation is spreading and our projects have become more varied. In the first few years of LimeCulture’s life, most of our work centred around supporting the professionals who roles it is to respond to sexual violence, such as the specialist sexual violence voluntary sector, sexual violence counsellors, ISVAs, sexual offence police officers, SARC staff. These days though, we find the work that we do is more broad, more diverse, more challenging. Of course, we still provide support to the specialists, and this will always be a key focus for LimeCulture, but we now find that more and more of our work comes from other places too. We are beginning to find that other non-specialist sexual violence organisations are beginning to recognise their responsibilities in this area of work, and they want our support too, which is excellent.

Its important to us at LimeCulture to recognise what we achieve as a team. Its so easy, when busy, to plough through from one week to the next, doing more and more, without ever really taking stock of what you have achieved.  At LimeCulture we have definitely been guilty of this. Our Independent Advisory Board pulled us up on this last year.  They reminded us that we have achieved an awful lot as a team, but don’t remind ourselves often enough. They told us that its important to take stock and look up from the work every once in a while.

So the purpose of this blog post is to help us ‘look up’. We are planning our next Team Meeting and it’s reminded us that its important to celebrate what you have already done, not just focus on the things that you have yet to do. So as part of ‘looking up’, we want to share what our fantastic Core Team have done this week. A single week in the life of LimeCulture.

This week our training team has delivered module 1 of the new Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Development Programme. Module 1 is three days and focuses on understanding sexual violence, taking first accounts, record keeping, and risk management. 20 delegates who come from 10 different universities attended this course. It was a brilliant 3 days. Challenging, interesting and most of all a significant step forward for universities wanting to improve their response to staff or students who have experienced sexual violence. These people will been selected by their universities to carry out dedicated roles to support people who have experience sexual violence. They will become experts and we are delighted that they chose to train with LimeCulture.

This week we also delivered training at Southampton Football Club, as part of an ongoing contract that we have with the Premier League as part of their player welfare programme. We are contracted to deliver consent training, sexting and sexual health training to all of the 20 Premier League academy players, which includes 14-21 year olds. We are delighted to have been selected as a partner to the Premier League and very much value the work that we do with them. They are an important organisation and are really committed to this area of work. They recognise the important role they have in the lives of young men and are dedicated to ensuring their young players are well supported. We have recently provided safeguarding training to the Premier League staff and it is clear to see how seriously this area of business is.

We are also currently contracted to provide expertise in an ongoing project that we are unable to disclose the detail of, due to the need to ensure confidentiality. However, it is a significant project that has us working hard with a range of other professionals to achieve a very import objective. This week has seen our core team move this project on from the development phase to the next stage. We certainly hope to be able to talk more about this project in the future but at the moment it is not appropriate to do so. The learning that we are gathering is unbelievable. The members of the LimeCulture Team working on this are being pushed out of their comfort zones to ensure that we deliver the best service….and they, along with others,  are certainly rising to the challenge.

Last week we ran a short survey for ISVAs to share their experience of how section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act. We were approached by Dame Vera Baird after the Labour Party held a roundtable to discuss the use of evidence relating to victims’ previous sexual history being introduced into sexual offence cases. We were delighted to support this as we firmly believe that ISVAs hold a range of information that others do not.  It was great to hear that the views of ISVAs are considered to be important. So this week, was spent analysing the results of the short survey in order to pass them on to include in any future debate on how section 41 is applied in sexual offence cases.  As an organisation we have also been asked to share our views with the Ministry of Justice. Before jumping in without proper consultation, we think it important to discuss section 41 with ISVAs and this survey is an extremely useful part of that consultation process.

This week has seen us kick start a fantastic new project to develop new standards for services supporting males. The Male Survivors Partnership (a collaboration of male services Survivors UK, Mankind, Safeline, and Survivors UK) was awarded an £85,000 grant from Lloyds Bank to commission LimeCulture to develop and roll out the new standards. We are absolutely delighted to be involved in this important work. Men and boys who have experienced sexual violence deserve to have high quality support services available to them. The new service standards will have accreditation linked to them. This will allow the services supporting males to show that they have been assessed and meet the quality standards.  We will share more about this project in the coming weeks.

This week also saw us submit a final report to NHS England and their police partners following our independent review of a sexual assault service. It was a fantastic piece of work with a huge amount of learning coming out from it. Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) are close to our hearts and we are always pleased to support these important services move forward. We also found out this week that we had won a contract to support the development of talking therapy services within sexual assault services. An exciting piece of work, which we are delighted to be part of.

Next week our joint (CEOs) are delivering a presentation at the Forensic Europe Expo in London. They are presenting the work that we did on behalf of the Forensic Science Regulator for England and Wales to develop new standards for forensic medical examination following sexual assault. They will also be talking about our new initiative the SAFE Program, which we recently launched (at the Emirates Forensic Event in Dubai) with our partners SceneSafe, experts in the design, manufacture and distribution of evidence recovery systems. The aim of the SAFE Program is to support sexual assault responses outside of the UK. It’s exciting. We’ve had a lot of interest already. So this week has seen us get ready for the 2-day event next week, where we will be exhibiting with SceneSafe.

Our final meeting this week was with the Victims’ Commissioners, Baroness Newlove. We discussed with her the need to improve responses to victims and witnesses. It was a fantastic meeting and we share so many of the same views, ideas and aspirations. It was a great opportunity to talk about the wonderful work of ISVAs, but also to highlight some of the challenges around their role, including the varying standards of provision including around their training; inconsistent recognition of their role and how this workforce can be strengthened moving forward.

Sitting behind all of the work that we do at LimeCulture are the individual members of the Core Team. Whether it be the planning, administrative support, thinking, writing, and delivering that goes into all of our work, it would not be possible without the input of each and every individual member of our fantastic team….they are so good that people want to poach them! Today we’ve had a request to loan one of our staff to another organisation to support them to deliver a project! A fantastic accolade.

LimeCulture delivers Universities UK workshop on responding to sexual violence

LimeCulture was delighted to deliver a workshop for Universities UK focusing on supporting the response to sexual violence. The fully booked workshop took place on 24 March in London with engagement from a large number of universities from across the UK.

The aim of the workshop was to explore how to ensure universities can deliver an effective strategic response to sexual violence (as described in chapter 5 of Changing the Culture) that embeds clear lines of accountability, appropriate governance structures, and understanding and ownership of risk across all relevant university functions.

Kim Doyle, LimeCulture’s joint Chief Executive, explained the multiple challenges for universities in responding to sexual violence.  Recognising that each university has a responsibility to their staff and their students to respond appropriately to any disclosure of sexual violence, LimeCulture emphasised the importance of effective support for victims/survivors –  not solely relating to the educational needs, but also the wider support needs which might include access to a forensic medical examination, psychological therapies and mental health support or, indeed, sexual health services. It could also include a police investigation and potentially a court case as well as internal disciplinary proceedings. Building on the experience of work we have undertaken in this area with the University of Greenwich and Keele University, the UUK workshop explored how to achieve a university-wide response to incidents of sexual violence.

The workshop also included presentations from Ian Munton and Claire Slater (Keele University’s student services) who brought to the workshop the benefit of their own experiences of developing and implementing an effective institution-wide response to sexual violence. Their views and learning proved to be invaluable to colleagues who are involved in this work. Keele University, who has opted to implement the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer – SVLO Model in order to provide an effective response to their students/staff who have experienced sexual violence, have been widely praised for the work they have done in this area.

The feedback that we have received from many of the representatives of universities who attended has been overwhelmingly positive. It is clear that the opportunity to discuss these  difficult – yet hugely important – issues was very much welcomed by the universities who recognise their responsibility and are clearly keen to respond appropriately to victims/survivors of sexual violence.


For more information about LimeCulture’s training for University Staff, please visit our website


LimeCulture provides series of workshops for the roll out of (Home Office-funded) Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs)

Throughout March, LimeCulture CIC is providing a series of free workshops to support the roll out of the Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs.)

Prior to the development of the Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment, there was no commonly available standardised risk and needs assessment specific to victims of sexual violence. This has meant that in many ISVA services, risk and needs assessments have been carried out informally (based on a mostly unstructured approach), or that ISVAs are not carrying out any risk and needs assessment at all.

While it is clear that some ISVA services have developed their own risk and needs processes and documentation, generally the assessment of risk and needs amongst the ISVA workforce as a whole is anecdotal and inconsistent. Largely, information collected by ISVAs has not been gathered systematically, and any information considered relevant is not entered into the formulation of risk/need in a consistent and/or standardised way.

As a result, a range of individual ISVAs, ISVA Managers and Commissioners of ISVA Services expressed concerns to LimeCulture about the lack of any standardised risk and need assessment available for use by ISVAs.

In Autumn 2016, LimeCulture CIC was awarded funding from the Home Office Support for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse (SVSSA) Fund to develop a Risk and Needs Assessment Tool for use by all ISVAs working across England and Wales to support victims and survivors of sexual violence. It is hoped that the Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment will be supported by all Commissioners of ISVA Services and adopted for use as soon as possible by all ISVAs working across the England and Wales.

 Key Facts about the development of the SAS Assessment:

  • The Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment has been developed specifically for use by Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs).
  • It is available for all ISVAs to use free of charge.
  • The SAS Assessment and Support Plan templates and accompanying toolkit are available in the Research section of the LimeCulture website and can be downloaded at no cost.
  • The templates can be customised and amended to include service specification, commissioning or management requirements.
  • The development of the SAS Assessment has included consultation and feedback from more than 50 ISVAs (and their Services).
  • Five ISVA Services were selected to become ‘Pathfinder Sites’ to test the effectiveness, quality, design and operational use.
  • LimeCulture has arranged a series of regional workshops during March 2017 intended to support the implementation of the SAS Assessment.

Further information

If you would like further information about the Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment or the accompanying templates or toolkit, please contact:

Becky Dewdney-York

Programme Delivery Manager

LimeCulture Community Interest Company

0203 633 0018

LimeCulture welcomes Broadchurch storyline, but raises concern about the portrayal of the support provided by the ISVA

The recent series of Broadchurch (being shown on ITV) focuses on the aftermath of a serious sexual assault. LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) wholeheartedly welcomes this storyline and believes it is will go a long way to raise the public’s awareness of sexual violence and the impact that it can have on those who have experienced these heinous crimes.

LimeCulture CIC is also pleased that the important role of the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) was also included in the storyline by the makers of the show. ‘This is really the first time the vital work of ISVAs has been showcased on a programme of this kind, which is excellent. We commend the makers of Broadchurch for including the role of an ISVA amongst their central characters. The support provided by an ISVA is hugely important and should be available to all victims/survivors.  We believe that this series of Broadchurch will raise the profile of ISVAs working across the country’ says Stephanie Reardon, Joint Chief Executive of LimeCulture CIC.

Unfortunately, LimeCulture CIC was concerned by the portrayal of the support provided by Beth – the ISVA –  when she accompanied her client into the police interview.  “ISVAs accompanying their clients into a police interview is an area that creates a lot of discussion and confusion. In the ideal world, the client should be able to choose who supports them. However, the reality is that this is a very grey area and there are risks to the ISVA and the client if the ISVA becomes aware of the details of the case or discusses the evidence with their client’, explains Stephanie.

Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings is clear that an ISVA can be a court witness supporter (box 4.1b) but it also states that the court witness supporter should be somebody ‘who has no knowledge of the evidence and who has not discussed the evidence with the witness‘. “Therefore, if the ISVA is to provide on-going support to their client leading up to and through a court case, they must ensure that these rules are adhered to in order to reduce the risk of challenge” adds Joint Chief Executive Kim Doyle, who worked for 24 years as a prosecutor specialising in sexual offence cases.  The main reason for this being to reduce the risk of the ISVA being accused of ‘coaching the witness’ or called as a witness themselves in their client’s case.  Kim explains “Its really not an ideal situation, but until such  time as the Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal proceedings rules are amended or changed on this point, we would urge ISVAs to understand the possible risks to themselves as professionals and their clients if they do go into the police interview and hear the details of the case”.

 Since Broadchurch was aired last night, LimeCulture has received a large number of messages from ISVAs who are concerned that this portrayal will undermine their role. Some ISVAs expressed disappointment about the storyline including the ISVA in the police interview and many more commented that they would not attend a police interview with their client because of the possible risks that it can create.  Other ISVAs commented that it will now be difficult to manage their client’s expectations if they have seen the programme and expect their ISVA to attend the police interview.

LimeCulture is the leading provider of training for ISVAs, having trained over 400 since 2011. “We are working really hard to ensure there is not a postcode lottery of ISVA services. We believe that everyone who has experienced sexual violence should have access to ISVA support that does not compromise the client or the professionalism of the ISVA. This difficult point goes straight to the heart of the complexities that ISVAs have to manage in order to keep their professional boundaries in place’’.

 The point about supporting a client in a police interview is discussed at length on the LimeCulture ISVA Development Programme, which has now been delivered to 16 cohorts of ISVAs since 2011.  “The ISVAs that we have trained all fully understand the possible risks should they become aware of the details of a case. On that basis, the majority of ISVAs would not attend the police interview to ensure that they do not have knowledge of the evidence and in order to reduce the risk of challenge. This means that they can then go on to provide vital support to their clients up to and throughout a court case’’ Stephanie explains. Kim adds that “of course, there will be times when an ISVA might become aware of the details of the case, but they should take steps to reduce this risk wherever possible. This could mean passing the client on to another ISVA (who is not aware of the evidence) if the original ISVA become aware of the details of the case or has discussed the evidence with their client, but sadly there are not enough ISVAs in all parts of the country for this to happen yet”.

 The benefit of the Broadchurch programme will be that the public becomes aware of the amazing support that is provided by many ISVAs across the country. “Sadly, this is happening at a time when we are seeing services reducing the number of ISVAs they employ due to funding pressures caused by a lack of clarity about who is responsible for commissioning and funded ISVAs“. Therefore, it is LimeCulture CIC’s view that it is very important that ISVAs do not take actions that compromises their ability to provide support or that could lead to others questioning their professionalism.

This statement has been made by LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) following the 2nd episode of Broadchurch series 3 aired on ITV on Monday 6 March 2017.


LimeCulture welcomes Gemma Kirby to their Core Team

LimeCulture is delighted to announce that Gemma Kirby has joined their Core Team as a Training and Development Officer.

Gemma who was based in Norfolk, employed as an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) working with children and young people,  brings with her a wealth of relevant and practical experience as an operational frontline professional working to support victims and survivors of sexual violence.

In 2015, Gemma was seconded to LimeCulture from Norfolk Constabulary to assist in the development of the Advanced Development Programme (ADP) Elective 2, which is an accredited course specifically for ISVAs who work with children and young people. ‘Gemma’s contribution to the development of that course was significant and we were thrilled with her input. Her knowledge and experience of working in this area was hugely helpful in creating a course that is fit for developing trained ISVAs to work with children and young people who have experienced sexual violence’, says Kim Doyle, LimeCulture’s Joint Chief Executive.

LimeCulture recently asked Gemma to train on the Advanced Development Programme and were impressed with her skills as a trainer. ‘We thought she was an excellent trainer and her knowledge around the topic was exceptional. The feedback she got from her fellow ISVAs was also brilliant. We are always looking for new talent and we feel that we have found that in Gemma. Her future is quite obviously bright and we want LimeCulture to be a part of that’.

Gemma joins LimeCulture at a time of growth. Over the last year, LimeCulture’s Core Team has expanded significantly in order to deliver a range of new projects and courses. ‘Gemma will have a crucial role at LimeCulture. She will be responsible for training on our existing courses and developing the material for the new courses that we have planned. Her professional background will also mean that she will add value in other parts of LimeCulture’s business. As an organisation, we feel really lucky that she has chosen to come and work at LimeCulture’.


LimeCulture Community Interest Company is the UK’s leading sexual violence training and development organisation. For more details about our work, please visit our website


The SVLO (Sexual Violence Liaison Officer) Model:  Ensuring universities can respond to disclosure of sexual violence

Last week saw LimeCulture, the UK’s leading sexual violence training and development organisation, launch its new accredited course for key university staff, the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Development Programme. The 2 modular course that is taught over two 3-day blocks, has been filled with a range of university-staff who have been selected by their universities to become their key representatives in responding to disclosures of sexual violence.

This new course provides university staff members with enhanced awareness and understanding of sexual violence, including understanding the impact and needs of victims, how to work in partnership with other agencies involved (including the police) and how and when to make referrals to external support services. The course also focuses on the legal implications of sexual violence and the court process, including internal investigations and what is required from the university. The course is available to staff-members from all universities and HEIs in the UK.

LimeCulture has been commissioned by the University of Greenwich and Keele University to support them to develop their institution-wide sexual violence strategies. The work that LimeCulture has been doing separately with the two universities, has lead LimeCulture to believe that developing a Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Model across all Universities is the most effective way of responding effectively to sexual violence in the university context.

The challenges for Universities in responding to sexual violence are multiple.  They are often very large organisations, made up of lots of different departments – or even entirely separate colleges –  who are responsible for and have a duty of care towards all of their staff and students  whose number could run into tens of thousands’ explains Kim Doyle, LimeCulture’s joint CEO whose portfolio of work has focused on university responses for the last few years.  “It’s extremely difficult for a single University to keep track of how many disclosures of sexual violence are being made across their institute.  How can they? A disclosure could be made to many different people within a single university…a trusted tutor, a supportive lecturer, student services, HR, a counsellor, an NUS officer, the list goes on. There are so many staff within a single university that could come into contact with a fellow staff member or student that has experienced sexual violence that it’s really difficult for them to make sure that the response that is given to that disclosure and the subsequent support of the student is appropriate’.

However, it is clear that each University has a responsibility to their staff and their students to respond appropriately to any disclosure of sexual violence. Over and above supporting a victim in relation to their educational needs, a university will also need to consider the wider support needs of a victim/survivor following a sexual assault. This might include access to a forensic medical examination, psychological therapies and mental health support or, indeed, sexual health services. It could also include a police investigation and potentially a court case as well as internal disciplinary proceedings.

Importantly, each university will need to ensure that they have acted appropriately and their involvement has not done anything to undermine a criminal prosecution or contaminate evidence relating to the sexual offence in the event that the student wants to report the matter to the police at any point either now or in the future. Furthermore, staff could potentially be called as witnesses in a trial, so robust record keeping will need to be in place to account for any involvement the university has had in relation to a sexual assault.

In addition to their victim-care responsibilities, all universities will also have to consider their responsibilities for any staff or student member who is accused of committing a sexual assault. This may involve carrying out an investigation internally, it might mean implementing polices and procedures to remove or suspend the accused and could include reviewing whether the university could have done anything to prevent the assault by way of safeguarding.

‘The extent of a university’s responsibility is significant and extremely complex. Coupled with the current increased focus on tackling sexual violence in universities, the stakes for institutions to get their responses right could not be higher’ explains Kim. The added difficulty for a university is that the needs of somebody who has experienced sexual violence can be multiple. People do not respond in the same way to sexual violence and this makes it virtually impossible to plan a response’.

However, what is clear, is that the needs of victims/survivors are likely to be wide ranging. ‘In addition to their educational needs, they may need to change accommodation, they may need time off from their studies. They may also have mental health needs, physical health needs, sexual health needs. They may wish to report their experience to the police, which could end up in a lengthy investigation. They may end up in court, giving evidence in a trial against their perpetrator. They are very likely to need support from professionals or local support services’. Adds Bernie Ryan, LimeCulture’s Training and Development Manager.Its seems to me that even if a university provided all it’s staff members with basic awareness training around sexual violence, it is still virtually impossible for a university to guarantee that all of their staff members could respond appropriately and ensure that a victim/survivor’s needs are being met’.

 It is the complexity around this area that has led LimeCulture – and the universities that they have been working with – to realise that they simply cannot expect all their staff to get this right, even if they do provide them with awareness training. ‘It’s just too hard and too complicated to expect everyone to understand all of the issues, challenges, varying needs and complexities that surround sexual violence. It is so important that the response is appropriate, we just shouldn’t be taking the risk of expecting everyone to know how to deal with these disclosures sensitively and professionally’ explains Bernie.

When asked what they think the solution might be for Universities who are trying their best to implement responses, both Kim and Bernie are clear.It seems obvious that a university’s best solution would be to remove the risk of inappropriate responses – or at least reduce the risk that the wrong thing is said or incorrect advice offered to somebody who has experienced sexual violence’ suggests Kim.

 ‘The answer in our view is to identify a number of key staff within the university, train them to ensure that they have the specific skills to be competent and confident to respond to any disclosure of sexual violence, regardless of who is making that disclosure – or when or where the incident occurred’ explains Bernie. ‘Creation of specialism within a number of key staff, will ensure that those seeking support are offered the correct advice and response on behalf of the university. It also means that it’s easier for people who have experienced sexual violence to know where they can go within the university to access support, advise or assistance. We see this role as acting as a conduit for students who want to access services outside the university but also for those services to have a clear route into the university’.

 Bernie goes on to explain ‘Sometimes the hardest thing for somebody who has experienced sexual violence is telling another person about their abuse. They often feel guilt or shame about their experience or they might be worried that they won’t be believed.  These feelings all contribute to the barriers that stop them coming forward. If we make it clear to everyone within the university that there are specially trained people who will listen to you, offer you advise and can support you if you have experienced sexual violence, then we begin to remove – or at least begin to break down – some of those barriers’. Many students will wish to approach someone trusted in the university in the first instance so that they can be supported with university specific issues such as interruption to studies or accommodation implications. The SVLO can provide information and signposting to specialist services meaning that the victim/survivor is not required to navigate this for themselves.

Importantly, Universities UK also agree with LimeCulture about this model, and in their recently published report of the Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students ‘Changing the Culture’, UUK are clear that ‘an effective response should involve the identification and up-skilling of specialist staff within the university to act as key people (Sexual Violence Liaison Officers) who will manage the response to a reported incident of sexual violence affecting a student within the university’.

 ‘The role of the SVLO is to assist the victim/survivor access the support they need following a sexual assault. An SVLO can explain their options about reporting, without putting any judgment or pressure on that person. They can assist them to seek or access specialist support services, health care or forensic services. Crucially, the SVLO can take on the role of a single point of contact within the university for that student or staff member’ explains Kim. ‘The SVLO will be responsible for making sure that the University has done all it should in ensuring the needs of the victim/survivor has been met, and are in line with the university policy around such cases’.

 What about where a student still goes to their lecturer or that trusted tutor to disclose their experience of sexual violence, rather than an SVLO?That is fine. The SVLO model does not prevent a disclosure to that lecturer, or trusted tutor. If somebody has decided that they are ready to disclose sexual violence, they should not be shut down or stopped from doing that. On the contrary, the SVLO model means that the untrained staff member can assist the victim/survivor to seek specialist support from the SVLOs, and thus reduce the risk of inappropriate responses’ explains Bernie.  ‘The important thing about the SVLO model is that by having identified key people with the knowledge and skills within the university, they can also support other staff members by ensuring disclosures of sexual violence are not being handled in isolation of the university. That lecturer or trusted tutor can be supported by the SVLO to ensure that their response is line with what the university expects and in line with the University’s sexual violence policy’.

LimeCulture is aware that some universities have considered whether they should fund local specialist sexual violence services to provide dedicated staff to work specifically on cases of sexual violence that occur within the university community. ‘In our view, this is not the answer. It is important not to re-create what already exists in the community for victims of sexual violence’ explains Kim.Students or staff of universities who have experienced sexual violence should not be seen as special or different. This will just perpetuate the barriers and stigma’

 LimeCulture is of the view that instead, it is important to enable students or staff to access specialist support where it exists in the community, rather than trying to move elements of specialist services into the university.Creating a single post for a university of up to 40,000 students, is not the answerexplains Kim Doyle. ‘Specialist staff need to sit within the governance and accountability arrangements of their own organisations, so there are a number of things wrong with this idea. Furthermore, Universities should not be regarded as commissioners of specialist sexual violence services – just because they acknowledge the need to support their staff or students who have experienced sexual violence – nor should we be creating two-tier systems for university members and the rest of the community’.

In LimeCulture’s view, although it must be acknowledged that students may have differing or additional needs by virtue of the fact that they belong to a university,the focus should be on the university’s responsibility to respond to the individual needs of the victim/survivor and ensure that they are being met as effectively as possible.  Where that need can be met by local police, a local SARC, a local mental health provider or sexual health clinic, a specialist sexual violence counselling organisation, an ISVA service then it should be done so in the consistent way that it is for everyone else, if that is what the student wants. Similarly, where this need should be met by the university itself, for example, where there are educational or accommodation needs, then that is where the needs should be met. The focus should be on identification of the individual’s needs and risks following sexual violence and facilitating access to those services that can meet that need. This is exactly what the SVLO model provides’.

 About the SVLO Development Programme

LimeCulture has developed a comprehensive 2-module course, the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer Development Programme in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Keele University which aims to equip key University and HEIs staff with the knowledge and specialist skills to identify risk and appropriately support the needs of students and staff who are victims of sexual violence.

Course Aim:

To develop the knowledge and skills to enable University Sexual Violence Liaison Officers to advise and assist victims of sexual violence in the aftermath of sexual abuse whether or not the victim chooses to make a report to the police.

Module 1: (3 days) Delivering an effective response to disclosures of sexual violence, identifying needs and managing risk.

Module 2: (3 days) Facilitating access to appropriate support, including the involvement of the criminal justice process

For more information about the course and to make a booking please visit the LimeCulture CIC website at

Testimonials from current delegates on the SVLO Development Programme

“The training was fantastic and I really got a great deal from it, I think it would be wonderful to see many other universities going on this training and taking back what they have learnt to really support survivors on their campuses. I really just wanted to say thank you for working with us this far and that I’m both proud of what we have achieved and feel really lucky to be on the training! Can’t wait to see you again in December for more challenging but rewarding work!” Delegate on Module 1 of the SVLO Development Programme, November 2016

“Enjoyable pace, structure and approach. Trainers were engaging, approachable and knowledgeable and the course has helped massively with our strategies and processes towards sexual violence in Higher Education” Delegate on Module 1 of the SVLO Development Programme, November 2016

‘Thank you for providing such an excellent, applicable programme in an approachable style that dealt with and helped us to understand complex and difficult subject areas” Delegate on Module 1 of the SVLO Development Programme, November 2016

“It was great that the training encouraged us to think very practically about our roles. This is often missing from training courses” Delegate on Module 1 of the SVLO Development Programme, November 2016

“I already feel a lot more confident and able to handle an incident. The chance to role play and talk through case studies was particularly useful. I think the training has been pitched at a perfect level and pace. The ability to have discussions about how the information and procedures fit into our specific roles in our institutions has been so useful” Delegate on Module 1 of the SVLO Development Programme, November 2016

About LimeCulture

LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) is a specialist sexual violence training and development organisation that has been established to improve the competence and confidence of frontline professionals (and their agencies) working with victims of sexual violence. It has worked with UUK to help them develop their recommendations in Chapter 5 of their recent report.

The Future: What’s next for ISVAs?

The National Conference for ISVAs took place on 28 September 2016. Held in Manchester’s spacious Fire and Rescue Training Centre so as to allow everyone who wanted to attend, chaired by the brilliant Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, and attended by over 120 ISVAs and ISVA Managers from across the UK, the atmosphere was buzzing from the moment LimeCulture opened the doors to welcome the first delegates in.

This was the second National Conference for ISVAs hosted by LimeCulture, the aptly named ‘Knowledge and Network’. The purpose of the conference clear – to bring together ISVAs from across the UK to share ideas, discuss challenges and learn. LimeCulture wanted to provide the ISVA workforce with the opportunity to learn from the topical and relevant guest speakers, but also from each other. ‘Learning from their peers is an important part of workforce progression. We know from more than 350 ISVAs that we have taught on the ISVA Development Programme, that the benefit of learning from each other is incredible. ISVAs will often face the same challenges regardless of what area they operate in, and being able to share their experiences is very powerful’ says Kim Doyle, LimeCulture’s joint chief executive, and lead trainer on their professional courses for ISVAs. ‘We’ve found that ISVAs are very happy to support each other and offer suggestions to their fellow professionals. It is really amazing to listen to them discuss a topic and collectively find a solution. Its very effective.’

The conference opened with Keir Starmer sharing his views on the work of ISVAs and the importance of their role. He explained that as Director of Public Prosecutions he was very aware of the need to provide victims and survivors of sexual violence with specialist support to assist them through the criminal justice system. He said the ISVA role has rightly been praised by many across the country and should continue to be seen as a vital element in the response to victims and survivors of sexual violence.

The first presentation at the conference was from LimeCulture’s Stephanie Reardon and Kim Doyle, whose presentation titled ‘A decade of ISVAs’ mapped the journey of the workforce from when role was first championed, right through to the current position. ‘We know that the number of ISVAs has expanded rapidly over the last 3 or so years, so there are a great number of ISVAs who don’t necessarily know the background or the history of their workforce’ explains Stephanie. ‘As a former civil servant, between 2004- 2008, I was the National Programme Manager for the team that had responsibility for sexual violence policy at the Department of Health.  I was in the room when the decision was made for the government to champion ISVAs and support the roll out of what my colleagues and I thought would be a vital support function for people following sexual violence. At a government level, we all knew that going through the criminal justice process was extremely hard for people. We also knew that getting the right support was vital but also very difficult to navigate or find the specialist services out there. We hoped that by supporting the introduction of ISVAs, that the dual focus of their role would make things significantly better for people who had experienced sexual violence.  I think its clear from the growing number of ISVA services and the increasing number of referrals that this is definitely the case. However, what happened next and how the role has been implemented across the country has varied. Its important for ISVA to be aware of this’. 

Other speakers at the National Conference included representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Criminal Injury Compensation Authority, who spoke about the Compensation Scheme for victims of sexual violence. They acknowledged some of the difficulties with the current scheme and how it is applied. This presentation lead to some lively debate with ISVAs about what this means in practice for their clients and how things are being implemented on the ground, including the incorrect advice that is often given by police and others about this type of compensation, and the concerning impact that applications for compensation can have on a court case.

The ISVAs also heard from representatives from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and Operation Hydrant, who explained their functions and how their work may impact on some of the people that ISVAs are supporting.

Del Campbell from National Ugly Mugs talked to the conference delegates about supporting people from LGBT+ communities and how a basic level of understanding around these issues can go a long way to support people from this community. Del outlined some of the distinct risks and specific needs that this group of people might have following sexual assault and gave some important tips to providing better support.

The final speaker was Ian Munton, Head of Student Services at Keele University. Ian explained the work underway in Universities across the UK to improve their response to staff or students who have experienced sexual violence. Ian focused specifically on the work that he and his team have done and are doing at Keele to ensure a safer and more effective response to anyone within the university community who has experienced sexual violence.

The next session of the Conference was over to the ISVAs themselves. This session was developed with the aim of identifying where ISVAs would like to go as a workforce. Through table discussions Conference ISVAs were asked to focus on what kind of improvements they would like to see made to support ISVAs to do their roles and what developments they would like to see made over the next decade. The discussions were lively, with lots of constructive debate,  suggestions and ideas being raised, shared and considered. 


Each table was asked to feedback to the conference delegates. The key themes that were raised by the ISVAs during the facilitated feedback session were wide ranging,  thoughtful and innovative.  The discussion that ensued included the overwhelming support for the recognition that ISVAs need to continue to progress as a professional workforce and strive towards continued and ongoing development of their profession. The Conference heard ISVAs suggest that there was a pressing and ongoing need to protect their workforce by ensuring all ISVAs are properly trained before they can call themselves an ISVA. The conference also heard calls for guidance to be issued to support ISVAs, ISVA service managers and commissioners to fully understand what the ISVA role entails and crucially, does not entail. There were requests for standards to be created so that we can eradicate a postcode lottery for ISVA clients in different parts of the country by ensuring that ISVA services are all operating at a similar standard of quality.

Conference delegates also suggested that they would like a professional body to represent their views, lobby on their behalf and ensure that the interest of the workforce were addressed in a professional capacity. ISVA suggested that this professional body should be responsible for keeping a register of qualified ISVAs and a directory of contact details. It was suggested by delegates that LimeCulture would be well placed to take on this role if they were willing to do so.

ISVAs also talked about the challenges of having different job descriptions, ranging salaries and expectations that is created through the different types of organisations that employ them as ISVAs. There was an acknowledgement that ISVA services no longer just sit within the sexual violence voluntary sector, so wider representation is now required to reflect the make up of the workforce.

The Conference heard that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the ISVA role amongst the general public and also amongst other professionals who come into contact with victims and survivors. There was discussion about the fact that referrals to ISVAs are not always made at the right time, and more needs to be done to address this to avoid last minute referrals to support people at court.

The ISVAs discussed the need to continue to increase their numbers to reflect the increasing number of people who could benefit from support from an ISVA. There was lively discussion about the impact on increasing workloads and rising referrals numbers where this is not supported by an increase in the number of ISVAs that are required to support all the people who need their services. There was also concerns expressed about the need to to tailor support to meet the needs of people with specific needs. Some suggested there was a need for more specialised ISVAs roles, while others said they felt that further training should be available to up-skill ISVAs in relation to specific topics.

The need to up-skill commissioners about ISVAs was discussed by the delegates, who said that they felt there was a general lack of awareness amongst those who fund ISVA Services about exactly what it is that ISVAs do, or should do to support the people of their local communities. There was great concern about the merging of the ISVA role with the IDVA role by commissioners who were perceived to be trying to make financial savings. There was also a call for clarity about exactly who is responsible for commissioning ISVA services as this varies from area to area in the absence of clear direction from government. ISVAs felt that the inconsistencies across the country clearly evidenced by the differences in the funding models for ISVA services, show that none of which are sustainable

LimeCulture committed to continue to support ISVAs moving forward in whichever way is possible for a national organisation to add value. Stephanie Reardon explained the work that LimeCulture is currently undertaking to develop a risk and needs assessment tool for use by ISVAs and the need for ISVAs to be involved in the development of this tool. Stephanie also said that although this kind of national work would go a long way to support ISVAs to make the case for investment and evidence their value moving forward, there is a real need for ISVAs, regardless of their employing organisations, to come together and collectively raise awareness of the important work that they do.

The national Conference also included the LimeLight Award ceremony, which was the first of its kind and intended to recognise the outstanding professional practices of ISVAs across the country. To read more about the LimeLight Awards, please click here.

Keir Starmer closed the conference with a hugely powerful summary of his observations from the day. He described ISVAs as ‘life-savers and life-changers’ and stressed the importance that ISVAs support of the very vulnerable must never be allowed to be underestimated.

‘Knowledge & Network’ the National Conference for ISVAs took place on 28 September 2016. It was hosted by LimeCulture CIC, the leading provider of ISVA training across all sectors.

LimeCulture Trains University Staff to Respond to Sexual Violence

LimeCulture has recently launched its new accredited course for designated staff within  Universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the UK, to be known as Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLO), to respond appropriately to students or staff members who have experienced sexual violence, either recently or non-recently.

The new course for university staff is launched as Universities UK publishes its report ‘Change the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students’. The report says that ‘UK universities have a significant opportunity to lead the way in preventing and responding to violence against women’.

Crucially, UUK’s report recommends that ‘an effective response should involve the identification and up-skilling of specialist staff within the university to act as the key people who will manage the response to a reported incident of sexual violence affecting a student within the university’.

Specifically, these specialist university staff will know what specialist external support is available to refer students who have experience sexual violence to access support in the local area. ‘They will also be able to inform students what their options are including forensics, reporting to the police and available internal and external support. This will empower the victim/survivor to make informed decisions. Giving these staff an easily identifiable title will make their role clear, for example, Sexual Violence Liaison Officer’.

LimeCulture’s comprehensive 2-module course, the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer Development Programme has been developed in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Keele University and aims to equip key University and HEIs staff with the knowledge and specialist skills to identify risk and appropriately support the needs of students and staff who are victims of sexual violence.

Each module contains a comprehensive syllabus of challenging content designed to equip University and HEI staff with the practical skills and knowledge to enable them to respond appropriately to those who disclose sexual violence. This course will also provide University and HEI staff with the expertise to embed and influence practice in their organisation’s response to sexual violence.

Course Content
This accredited course has been designed to be delivered over six days. Each of the 2 modules is taught over three consecutive days to minimise the amount of time staff are away from their Universities/HEIs.

Module 1: Understanding how to communicate with victims of sexual violence
and assess and manage risk

Module 2: Understanding how to work in partnership with other organisations who are supporting victims of sexual violence and the Criminal Justice process

Course Eligibility
Places will only be provided to candidates whose employers have agreed to pay the full course fees.

Course Dates & Times
The SVLO Development Programme dates for delivery are:
Module 1: Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 November 2016
Module 2: Monday 12 to Wednesday 14 December 2016

The SVLO Development Programme starts at 10am and finishes no later than 4.30pm on each day of the training. Assessments are held at the end of the day, so it is requested that delegates do not make arrangements to leave the training early unless there are exceptional circumstances that are agreed with the LimeCulture beforehand.


To book a place on this course, please complete the electronic form on our website.

Our Trainers

LimeCulture has pulled together the best trainers in the field to deliver the SVLO Development Programme. Each of the trainers is a leader in their field and each is nationally and internationally renowned for the work they do. Together their expertise ensures that the training provided on the SVLO Development Programme is exceptional.

The SVLO Development Programme is an accredited professional course focusing on the core skills and competencies required to work at a University or HEI as an SVLO. On successful completion of the full course, SVLOs will receive a certificate of accreditation from NCFE, our awarding body.

Course Fees
The cost of the SVLO Development Programme is £1,010 plus VAT per person. Discounted rates are not available.

The course fee includes:

Electronic material and presentations
Delegate pack and note book
Refreshments and lunch
The SVLO Development Programme is held at our preferred training venues located in Manchester.

Overnight accommodation is not available, however our training venues are located in Manchester city centre, so there are lots of hotels to suit all budgets. LimeCulture take no responsibility for the arrangement of accommodation for our delegates.

Maximum Numbers
This course has a maximum number of delegates applied to support the learning and development needs of the delegates.

Expressions of Interest
Once the course is full, delegates wishing to book can be added to the Expressions of Interest list and offered a place on the next available course. In the event of a cancellation, a place will be offered to the next person on the waiting list. To be added to the waiting list, please send us an email stating your Expression of Interest to We will keep you posted when the next dates are announced for this event and if there are any cancellations in the interim. All Expressions of Interest will receive a priority booking form before the course is marketed to the wider network.

LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) is the UK’s leading sexual violence training and development organisation. We work with frontline professionals, and their organisations, to improve the response to victims of sexual violence, through our range of training and development initiatives, research and consultancy services.