LimeCulture launches new guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and abuse

LimeCulture is pleased to share new guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and abuse as part of the National ISVA Co-ordinator (NISVAC) Service pilot.

The NISVAC Service has been working in partnership with national learning disability organisations, local projects, professionals and ISVA services to identify the practical challenges and barriers for victims/survivors of sexual violence with learning disabilities in accessing sexual violence support services.

Building on existing research, we found that many victims/survivors of sexual violence with learning disabilities are not being referred to, or are not readily able to access specialist sexual violence services. This is, in part, driven by the lack of information about the support available, and the confidence of disability organisations in enabling and encouraging their clients to access support provided by Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services. In addition, ISVAs have also told us that they often feel they lack the experience, confidence and skills to respond to the needs of victims/survivors with learning disabilities.

LimeCulture has created this resource, developed with input from learning disability organisations and ISVA services, to raise awareness of local ISVA Services among disability organisations, and to support disability organisations to strengthen their internal processes to ensure appropriate referrals are made for the individuals they support.

The pathway resource aims to support organisations and professionals working with individuals with learning disabilities to:

  • Respond to and support those who may have experienced sexual violence and abuse
  • Identify and access sexual violence pathways of support local to the victim/survivor
  • Improve access to Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services
  • Strengthen internal processes and local partnerships with sexual violence support services.

Download the Guidance for professionals working with people with Learning Disabilities  

Holli Waterson, National ISVA Co-ordinator for the NISVAC Service, said:

“It is an important principle that all victims and survivors, including those with learning disabilities, can access the support from an ISVA services where they have experienced sexual violence or abuse. The organisations and professionals who work with or support people with learning disabilities have a key part to play in ensuring a seamless pathway to support from an ISVA service.

However, we know from the work we’ve been doing that professionals don’t always know what to do when people have experienced sexual abuse. Their knowledge of local ISVA services may also be limited and therefore referrals that could be made, are not – meaning that people with learning disabilities do not always get the specialist support they need following sexual abuse.

The purpose of this pathway guide is to provide information to support professionals to make referrals to ISVA services. By raising awareness of ISVA services among professionals and organisations, we hope to increase the number of victims/survivors with learning disabilities getting the specialist support they need.”

Through the National ISVA Co-ordinator Service pilot, LimeCulture has established a Professional Network for ISVAs to share knowledge, best practice and expertise when supporting clients with learning disabilities.

To better support ISVAs to respond to clients who have learning disabilities, we have also developed an accredited, 2-day training course for ISVAs to appropriately meet the needs of clients with learning disabilities and neurodiverse conditions. The first course takes place on 12 and 13 April 2022 – you can find out more information, including how to register, here


The NISVAC Service pilot was commissioned by Operation Hydrant in 2020 to support victims/survivors of sexual abuse from identified hard-to-reach, or seldom heard, groups with a pathway into support from an ISVA service and/or access to the criminal justice system, in recognition of the additional barriers they face. 

The National ISVA Advice Line is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – 0800 246 5260 or by email


Male Quality Standards Accreditation Programme open for application!

LimeCulture’s Independent Accreditation Programme is now open for applications for a new cohort of services to seek accreditation against the Male Survivors Partnership (MSP) Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence.

The application window will close on Monday 14 March.

Stephanie Reardon, Chief Executive of LimeCulture, said

“The MSP’s Quality Standards are a critical tool for improving support for male victims of sexual violence – we’re therefore delighted to open Wave 9 of the accreditation programme today. We feel privileged at LimeCulture to be able to work with so many services to improve the quality of their provision, and are always hugely impressed by services’ creativity and commitment to the best possible outcomes for their male clients.”

Since it was launched in April 2018, the Independent Accreditation Programme has been opened to 8 waves of services supporting male victims/survivors of sexual violence from across England and Wales. To date, 40 services have successfully achieved the Quality Mark, and 5 more services are working towards it.

Neil Henderson, Chief Executive of Safeline, said:

“Pursuing independently accredited best practice quality standards is a strategic priority for Safeline. We are an inclusive organisation and want to ensure any survivor accessing our services gets the support they want and need. The Male Quality Standards (MQS) are critical to delivering that goal.

“Comparing our service against best practice standards immediately identified numerous opportunities to improve our support for male survivors. External verification that our support for male survivors meets the MQS has led to an increase in males accessing our services: they are confident that the support they will receive is high quality.

Having external experts assess your services as meeting best practice standards has created a real sense of professional pride within the charity and has helped us retain and recruit staff. Commissioners are increasingly aware of how important the MQS are in supporting male survivors and more are making it a condition of any bid for funds. Meeting the standards has helped us secure additional funds to support more male survivors.”

Safeline holds the Quality Mark for its helpline, ISVA and counselling provision.

To apply

To apply, or to request a bespoke quotation for your service/organisation, e-mail us at Places on the programme are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Services enrolling will need to be available for a virtual Accreditation Workshop on Thursday 31 March.

You can find more information about the Accreditation programme, costs, and our Terms and Conditions here.

We will also be opening applications for the Quality Standards for ISVA Services within the next month – watch this space!




New project to gather the experiences of victims and survivors of rape

LimeCulture is delighted to be working closely with Cambridgeshire Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Cambridgeshire Rape Crisis over the next 16 months to capture the views and experiences of adult victims/survivors of rape who are engaging with Cambridgeshire Police and accessing local ISVA support.

We’ll be undertaking a series of interviews with victims/survivors at key points during their criminal justice journey to better understand whether they have felt respected, supported and safe; what has been done well; and where improvements can be made. Victims/survivors will be asked for their consent to participate in the research and can withdraw at any time.

LimeCulture has long-standing experience of engaging sensitively with victims/survivors from across the country through our extensive service review and consultancy work. We believe speaking directly to victims/survivors of all ages, and understanding their views, expectations and experiences is not only key to tackling the barriers individuals’ face in seeking support and seeking justice; but also to putting victims’ voices at the forefront of shaping better services.

Through this project, victims/survivors of rape will be able to share their views and experiences freely and confidentially with LimeCulture. To ensure no one can be individually identified, we will share key feedback themes with the Police and support services to enable them to make any necessary improvements to their services and ways of working.

Sam Whyte, Director of Consultancy Services at LimeCulture, said: “We are pleased to be supporting this work to respond locally to the Government’s end-to-end review of rape, and are excited to see the changes that may result when victims’ voices are put at the heart of service delivery.”

Read the press release from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgshire

For further information please contact