LimeCulture launches survey for victims/survivors about their experiences of Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services

LimeCulture CIC has today launched a national survey to gather the views of victims/survivors of sexual violence (or the parents or carers of children) who have accessed Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) services. The survey can be found online at 

The survey will help LimeCulture to develop new quality standards for ISVA Services that will be implemented across the UK. In order to support their development, we are conducting a survey with victims/survivors to understand their views based on their experiences of ISVA services across the UK. “We are keen to ensure that these new quality standards meet the needs of the people who use ISVA Services. Therefore, we are seeking the views and experiences of people who have accessed ISVA services- or attempted to access such services- as these will be key to making sure that the quality standards capture what people want and need when they turn to ISVA services for support” says Stephanie Reardon, LimeCulture’s Joint Chief Executive.

We have great ambitions for this survey and are keen to have as many victims/survivors as possible (or their parents or carers where appropriate) contribute to this important survey. This will help us to ensure the new quality standards are informed directly by victim/survivors and are fit for purpose to meet their needs.

The main purpose of these new quality standards will be to reassure people who have experienced sexual violence about the ISVA services they are accessing are of high quality and can effectively meet their needs. The quality standards will provide a benchmark of quality that ISVA service can work towards achieving and where they do meet the quality standard, they will receive a ‘kitemark’ in recognition of their quality.

This survey will be open for a 7-week period. The survey opens on Friday 1 June and closes on Friday 20 July 2018. To take part in the survey, you are not required to confirm your name or any contact details- you can remain completely anonymous.

Any information or views that you chose to share with us will be completely anonymised so that you, any ISVA Service that you have accessed or any professional you have worked with would not be identifiable.

If you would like further information about the survey – or about any aspect of the project, please do not hesitate to contact Becky Dewdney-York who is leading this work on behalf of LimeCulture CIC.

Becky Dewdney-York, Programme Manager, LimeCulture CIC Tel: 0203 633 0018

Update on the projects will be also be available at LimeCulture Research 

LimeCulture CIC is the leading provider of ISVA Training in the UK, having now trained over 600 ISVAs since 2011. We provide professional advice and support to ISVAs and continue to advocate about the importance of ISVA services as crucial support for victims/survivors of sexual violence. 


LimeCulture delivers accredited training to it’s 20th cohort of ISVAs

This week has seen LimeCulture deliver its accredited Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Development Programme to the 20th cohort of ISVAs. “We are really excited to have delivered this course to 20 different groups of ISVAs. Our first ISVA Development Programme was delivered back in 2011, and I don’t think we had any idea just how much demand there would be” says Bernie Ryan, LimeCulture’s Training and Development Director. “At that time, we really had no idea that the ISVA workforce would grow to the extent it has. Back in 2011, there were about 90 ISVAs working in pockets across the country, but we’ve now delivered the Development Programme to over 600 ISVAs, which is absolutely fantastic as it shows how important and valued ISVAs are now, with more and more posts being funded and created every year“.


The ISVA Development Programme has been updated and amended since the first delivery back in 2011. The LimeCulture Training Team continually review and update the course material to ensure that the content is as good as it can be, to meet the needs of ISVAs. “Our course is practical in focus and it gives ISVAs the tools they need to do their job, so its vitally important that we make sure that everything we teach on the course is up-to-date and relevant to assist them in their roles. We constantly assess and update to make sure that the course supports ISVAs to do their job” explains Gemma Kirby, one of LimeCulture’s Training Managers. Gemma previously worked as an ISVA supporting children and young people, so she is perfectly placed to know whether the material developed for the ISVA Development Programme is useful for ISVAs “I know from when I was an ISVA, that I needed my training to be practical and informed by what actually happens on the ground, on the frontline. This is consistent with what ISVAs still tell us they need” she says.

The LimeCulture Training Team know and understand just how hard it is to be an ISVA. “Its such a demanding role” says Gemma. “ISVAs ultimately have to support their clients by identifying and managing their needs, which are often multiple and can be very complex. In addition we regularly have to do this along side an ongoing police investigation or a court case, which can be extremely challenging. So it’s vitally important that we are professional, create and maintain boundaries and completely understand how and where our roles and responsibilities as ISVAs fit within the wider system. It is not an easy job” reflects Gemma.

When the course was originally developed by LimeCulture in 2011, it was designed and planned in recognition that very few people understood the whole system that ISVAs operate within.  “Back in 2011, ISVAs were a relatively new workforce. There was quite a lot of nervousness within the criminal justice agencies about what their role actually entailed” explains Bernie, who managed a team of ISVAs in her previous role as Manager of St Mary’s SARC. “Some people thought they were counsellors, other people thought they were volunteers and in all honesty, in the early years we saw the role interpreted in quite a few different ways, which was worrying because of the potential impact that it could have had on not only clients, but the wider workforce too” explains Bernie. “However, we’ve worked really hard to ensure that through our training key messages have spread about how the ISVA role should work to support people who have experienced sexual violence and why it is important to ensure consistent ISVA provision is delivered”.

The key thing that Limeculture has tried to do through their training is explain the ISVA role in context. “Ensuring the health and well being of the client is central to the role of the ISVA, but as ISVAs also have to operate within the criminal justice system, it is crucial that they understand the strict rules that apply there” explains Jo Palmiero, a prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service who also works on a part-time basis for LimeCulture as a Training Manager. “So many ISVAs are nervous about this element of their role. So we provide them with training that explains the criminal justice process and how ISVAs fit within it. We explain what they can do as an ISVA and what they shouldn’t do, and most importantly, why”. 

The LimeCulture Training team believe this is why the demand for the ISVA Development Programme course has been consistently high since it was launched. New courses become fully booked almost as soon as they are open and they believe it is because of the quality of the material they train and how they apply it. “We only use trainers who are leaders in their field, and most importantly, trainers who can use their professional knowledge and skill and apply it to the ISVA role. So for example, when we train ISVAs on safeguarding, it is not generic safeguarding that we teach, it’s how it applies to ISVAs or when we train the ISVAs on risk management, it is not generic, it’s focused on how ISVAs can manage the risks of their clients.”


LimeCulture is the leading provider of ISVA Training. “We deliver the ISVA Development 3 or 4 times a year and our courses are always full with ISVAs from the full range of ISVA services, regardless of whether they are provided by the voluntary sector, NHS, Local Authority or SARCs” explains Bernie.  “For us, this is a really important aspect of our training. We want -and actively encourage- ISVAs to learn from each other too. They find this really helpful and many of the ISVAs who’ve trained together remain friends and continue to support each other professionally.  The positives that come from learning alongside and from other ISVAs from different areas and services is really key” says Bernie. “In fact, we would be worried if all of the ISVAs on a single cohort came from a single sector or type of service because they wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn from their peers in the same way. Luckily that has never happened and we’ve always had ISVAs employed from a range of services attend our courses”.

The 20th cohort, who started their training this week, is made up of 25 ISVAs – 13 of them are from the specialist sexual violence voluntary sector (such as Rape Crisis-type organisations) – 6 ISVAs are from Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) – 5 ISVAs are from Victim Support and 1 is from an NHS Trust. “I know from when I did my own ISVA training, the value of learning alongside other ISVAs who work in different ISVA services and even different sector types is wonderful. I learnt so much from my peers” recalls Gemma. The feedback from the 20th cohort, who have completed the 1st module this week, has been entirely consistent with this view, with one ISVA providing this feedback “Its been great training, really engaging and fun. Interesting to work alongside other ISVAs and hear point of view different from my own” and from another ISVA “Excellent training, tough, informative and very well put together and delivered. I have really enjoyed the discussions and learnt a lot through other ISVA’s experiences”.


Further information about LimeCulture’s ISVA Development Programme can be found on our website


Please Note- The next ISVA Development Programme will be open for online bookings soon. If you would like to express an interest in joining our 21st cohort, please email us and we ensure that you are given priority when bookings are open.

LimeCulture also provides an Advanced Development Programme made up of different electives for experienced ISVA. For more information about our additional training for accredited ISVAs, please visit our website

A bit of good news for a Friday afternoon…

This week has been great for LimeCulture. Our Core Team met on Wednesday for a team meeting and together we were able to focus on our priorities for the coming months. We’ve got a lot on that we are excited about and we’ve got a few bits of great news that we’d like to share with our supporters, customers, clients & friends. We figured the best way to do this would be through a blog post!  So here goes…

LimeCulture will be recruiting again soon

Yes, that’s right. We are expanding our Core Team again. Our workload has increased and we need to make sure that we are properly resourced in order to deliver on the important work that we are committed to. We are looking for some fantastic team players to join our brilliant, fun and hard-working team.

We will soon be needing two new administrators to support our busy team to carry out the important work that we do. We are currently finalising these job descriptions and once they have been agreed, we will publish the advert, job description and person specifications here. So if you would like to join our team, or know somebody who would love to work with us, please watch this space…as more information will follow over the next week or so!


LimeCulture offers free advanced training to 100 ISVAs

Yes, we did say FREE training! We have now developed Elective 3 of the Advanced Development Programme (ADP) for experienced ISVAs, which will focus on supporting older people.

We know that older people also experience sexual violence, but they tend to be under represented in official crime reports and in sexual violence services too. However, we know that older people should be able to benefit from support from ISVA services, and we’re keen to ensure that ISVAs feel able to effectively support this hidden group too. LimeCulture have worked with Age UK and other partners to develop a brand new course to assist ISVAs support older people who have experienced sexual violence. The best bit is that we are able to deliver this course free of charge to 100 accredited ISVAs!

Our ambition is to see a geographical spread of this important specialism, so we will be delivering the course in various locations across the country over the summer and autumn months. To ensure the spread of this specialism, we propose to offer each ISVA Service a free place to allow every ISVA service to support older people more effectively by having an ISVA with specialist training, skills and knowledge.  It is important to note, that this training is ONLY available to fully trained ISVAs who have completed their full accredited ISVA Development Programme. More information about how to book a place on the new Advanced Development Programme, Elective 3, will follow over the coming weeks! So look out for it!


Keir Starmer will be chairing 2018’s Knowledge & Network Event, the National ISVA Conference 

Finally, it is with huge pleasure that we announce that the Chair of the 2018 National ISVA Conference will be Sir Keir Starmer, QC MP.

Those of you who attended the 2016 Conference will recall that Keir was a truly excellent and inspiring Chair…so we were thrilled when he told us that he would be honoured to chair this year’s conference again.

Knowledge & Network, the National ISVA Conference will take place in Birmingham on 17 October 2018….and we can’t wait! The conference will open for bookings on 1 June, along with the nominations for the LimeLight Awards.



For more information about our work, please contact us!

Visit our website or email us or call and talk to us 0203 633 0018

LimeCulture confirms 10 Wave 1 Sites

LimeCulture CIC and the Male Survivors Partnership are delighted to announce the 10 Wave 1 Sites who have been selected for inclusion in the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support Programme as part of the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence that were recently launched in the House of Lords by Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales.

The Wave 1 Sites are:

  1. The Oak Centre SARC (Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust)
  2. Mankind
  3. The Saturn Centre SARC (Mountain Healthcare)
  4. Survivors UK
  5. Survivors in Transition
  6. Safeline
  7. Notts SVS Services
  8. West Yorkshire ISVA Service (Victim Support)
  9. Stepping Stones, North Wales
  10. Survivors Manchester

As part of the Wave 1 Site application process, we received three times as many applications as places available on the first Wave. This demonstrates a clear appetite from services wishing to meet the Quality Standards and evidence this through an independent accreditation process.

The applications we received were from a range of services supporting male victims/survivors of sexual violence, something LimeCulture and the MSP have been keen to encourage since the Quality Standards having been developed to be applicable to all services supporting males. Applications came from a range of services including: male-only services and services supporting both males and females, voluntary sector and statutory sector services, counselling and therapeutic services, Helpline services, ISVA services and SARC services, as well as sexual violence support services located with the university setting.  The response has been fantastic.

Crucially, the purpose of Wave 1 is to trial and test the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme, which has been designed to provide an independent ‘KiteMark’ to services who meet the Quality Standards. While it is vital that this independent process is able to rigorously assesses and accurately monitor services against the Quality Standards, it is also important that for those services who do not yet meet the Quality Standards or are working towards achieving it, this process can identify where services need further work to meet the quality standards and provide targeted support to assist their development.

Stephanie Reardon, Joint CEO for LimeCulture said: “Wave 1 is absolutely key for LimeCulture to trial and test our own assessment processes, as well as the support functions required to support services to meet the Quality Standards. On that basis the 10 Wave 1 Sites that have been selected because they offer us an excellent spread of services to work with across England and Wales. The 10 Wave 1 Sites are also meeting the Quality Standards to varying degrees, which is useful as it allows us to test how best to support services to reach the benchmark and fully comply with the Quality Standards”.


Lloyds Bank Fund England and Wales, who funded the development of the Qaulity Standards, has funded the 10 Wave 1 Sites to be included in the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme. Given the high number of applications we received, we know that a large number of services supporting male victims/surviors offering demonstrably high quality services have been disappointed not to be include in the programme in this first wave. LimeCulture and MSP are now in discussions about expanding the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme in further waves. Further information about the programme and applications for wave 2 sites will be made in due course.

The Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence are available to download free of charge by clicking here


For further information about the Quality Standards and the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support Programme, please contact

Tom Leavesley, Project Manager, LimeCulture CIC




Wave 1 Application Process NOW OPEN – Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence

Following last week’s successful launch in the House of Lords on 31 January of the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence, LimeCulture is delighted to announce that the application process to become a Wave 1 Site is now open.

As part of the funding provided to the Male Survivor Partnership by Lloyds Banks Fund for England and Wales to develop the new Quality Standards, LimeCulture has been commissioned to develop an accreditation, monitoring and support process to sit along side the quality standards. This funding will allow 10 support services to become Wave 1 Sites, which will see them gain accreditation by successfully meeting the quality standards.

We are now looking for applications from services who currently support male victims/survivors of sexual violence who wish to be part of this innovative and transformational programme. [NB- We cannot accept services who do not currently support male victims/survivors.].

We are not being prescriptive about the type of services that can apply to be a Wave 1 Site and we would welcome applications from a range of voluntary and community sector services, statutory and private organisations who provide support to males. We would welcome applications from services providing (but not limited to) counselling and psychological therapies, 1 to 1 support, group or peer support, Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Services, SARC services etc.

We are keen to see a regional spread in the Wave 1 Sites, but location of the service will not be the deciding factor that determines which services are included as Wave 1 Sites. Therefore, we would welcome applications from services located across England and Wales.

Importantly, Wave 1 Sites are not required to be specialist male-only services. The Quality Standards have been developed for all services supporting male victims/survivors of sexual violence, including those services who also may also provide support to women and/or children too. As a result we are very keen to include a range of services who provide support to male victims/survivors of sexual violence into the Wave 1 Sites

Where services wishing to be included in the accreditation, monitoring and support process are identified as not yet meeting the benchmark for the Quality Standards, the accreditation team will work with them to develop an action plan and they will be able to access an agreed package of support to make the necessary improvements to meet the Quality Standards. This may include access to consultancy, peer support and where we identify common issues across a number of services, capability building workshops and development events.

If you would like to be part of this exciting and ground breaking project, the application form to become a Wave 1 Site can be found by clicking here

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 23 February 2018.

Further information can be found about the Quality Standards and the Wave 1 Site application process at

For further questions please contact LimeCulture via email

The successful Wave One Sites will be announced on 12 March 2018, and the accreditation, monitoring and support process will be carried out throughout the 2018/19 financial year supporting the 10 Wave One sites to achieve the Male Quality Standard Kitemark.




LimeCulture announces Sir Keir Starmer as the Chair of their Independent Advisory Board

LimeCulture CIC are delighted to announce that Sir Keir Starmer QC MP is to become the Chair of their Independent Advisory Board.

The LimeCulture Independent Advisory Board was established to provide the strategic direction for the development of LimeCulture CIC. The Board, originally Chaired by Baroness Joyce Gould of Potternewton, was created to provide independent high-level strategic guidance and act as a thoughtful sounding board to LimeCulture Directors and staff, as we developed as a new national specialist sexual violence organisation.

Nearly 7 years on from when LimeCulture was established, LimeCulture has emerged as a leading national sexual violence training and development organisation. The Independent Advisory Board chaired by Baroness Gould has been instrumental in getting LimeCulture to where we find ourselves today and we are clear that the advice, support and guidance from Baroness Gould and other Board Members has been invaluable to our success.

Baroness Gould stepped down at the end of last year in order to reduce her work commitments, but she leaves LimeCulture as a well established and respected organisation, nationally recognised for our expertise around responding to sexual violence.

Our focus is naturally quite different to when we first started our work 7 years ago, and therefore, we are keen to ensure that our Independent Advisory Board’s focus reflects our current position, supports us to overcome our challenges and enables us to achieve our new goals. We are therefore absolutely delighted to announce that Sir Keir Starmer, QC MP will be taking on the position of Chair of the LimeCulture Independent Advisory Board.



[Above image] Sir Kier Starmer QC MP with LimeCulture CIC Joint Chief Executive Kim Doyle and Stephanie Reardon.

For more information about LimeCulture CIC, please email or visit our website


Merry Christmas from all at LimeCulture

This is our final blogpost of 2017 and what a year it has been for LimeCulture!

As another exciting and busy year comes to a close, the LimeCulture team are reflecting on our successes but also thinking about the things we would like to achieve together in 2018.

LimeCulture Team Photo2017 has seen the LimeCulture Core Team increase in size to a team of 10. We have been busy this year with ongoing and new projects dominating our ever-increasing workloads. But the team are strong and effective, and every one of them brings a unique skill set that adds to our collective success. We expect to expand again in 2018, so look forward to new members joining the team.

During this past year, we have achieved so many great things as an organisation. Our work is varied and interesting, and we are incredibly grateful for the range of projects we are asked to be involved with.

Our continued work around ISVAs is important to us as an organisation, and we are grateful for the support services who continue to choose LimeCulture to provide the training to their ISVAs. Our training team, lead by Bernie Ryan OBE, have been busy all year training ISVAs. They have delivered the ISVA Development Programmes to 4 full cohorts of new ISVAs this year- each course with fantastic feedback. They have also delivered separate Advanced Development Programmes to 2 full cohorts of experienced ISVAs and in November, they delivered another workshop for ISVA Managers- again with much praise from delegates.

We continued to support the ISVA workforce throughout 2017 and the role out of the Safety and Support (SAS) Assessment we developed especially for ISVAs to assist them to identify, monitor and manage their clients’ risk and needs has been positively received, with excellent feedback from ISVA services who tell us that it has had a significant impact on the way they manage their cases. This year, at a national level we have worked with the Ministry of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service and Home Office to assist them in understanding the ISVA role. At a local level, we have worked with a range of local commissioners, including from NHS, Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Authorities to understand the importance of commissioning ISVA services.

The National ISVA Conference on 28 September was a huge success with over 100 attendees and a range of excellent speakers joining our annual “Knowledge and Network Event”. Once again, the LimeLight Awards raised the profile of individual ISVAs, ISVA Teams and Managers for the excellent work they do in support of victims of sexual violence.

ISVAs aside, this year we have also trained over 50 Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs) across Greater Manchester and Cumbria to enable them to effectively support their clients who have experienced sexual violence in the domestic setting. Although as an organisation we are clear in our views that the role of IDVA and ISVA are distinct, and should not be combined, we do think it important for both sets of professionals to have specific knowledge and skills in order to properly support those who have experienced sexual violence in a domestic setting or an intimate relationship.

The launch in 2015 of our new Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Development Programme – following our work with Keele University, Greenwich University and Universities UK to improve the response to sexual violence within the university setting –  has seen an explosion of interest from universities across the UK wishing to adopt the SVLO Model to ensure an institution-wide response to sexual violence. This year we have delivered the SVLO Development Programme to 3 full cohorts, with SVLOs being put in place in 19 separate universities across England and Scotland (where they have adopted the name Sexual Misconduct Liaison Officer for their specially trained staff) . We have also run a series of development days and bespoke training for a number of universities to help them with their roles and responsibilities to support students and staff, their organisational responses, implementing appropriate policies and procedures and how best to manage disclosures of sexual violence. Next year, we expect to see a significant increase in our work in this important area.

Our work around supporting Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) has continued this year with a bespoke training package developed especially for the staff at the Havens, the Sexual Assault Referral Centres for London. We have also worked with NHS England Commissioners in the East of England to develop a service specification for a talking therapies services for SARC-users. Our training team continue to provide bespoke training to SARC staff, including Crisis Workers, and we look forward to meeting the SARC teams we are training in the new year. We are also looking forward to continuing our work with the Forensic Science Regulator for England and Wales to bring in new standards for the forensic medical examination of child and adult victims following sexual assault.

We have been commissioned by a number of local Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) this year to undertake independent reviews of local sexual violence services. In Gloucestershire and Devon and Cornwall, we have recently carried out independent reviews of their local ISVA services, in Nottinghamshire we carried out some independent research to identify what local support services for victims/survivors of sexual violence should look like moving forward. In North Yorkshire we are part way through an independent review of their county-wide ISVA service, their adult SARC and their paediatric SARC. We look forward to continuing with this work next year.

This year, partnership working has once again played a key focus of our work. Our relationships with other like-minded organisations is important to us. This year we have continued to work in partnership with the Premier League, delivering our bespoke ‘Respect Programme’ to the academy players in the top 20 football clubs. We have also delivered a series of safeguarding training events to Premier League staff this year too.

In April, LimeCulture and SceneSafe, who has been at the centre of sexual assault forensic development since 1997, have jointly launched the ‘SAFE Programme’. The programme allows Governments outside of the UK access to technical support, forensic equipment, analysis and training to improve local responses to sexual assaults. Together, LimeCulture and SceneSafe launched this exciting new international programme in April, when we were invited to speak at the Forensic Science Expo’s in both Dubai and London.

Training & DevelopmentOur work in partnership with the Male Survivors Partnership has been a highlight of 2017. Funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, we have worked extensively to research and develop new quality standards for services supporting male victims/survivors of sexual violence to ensure that the needs of males can be met effectively by local services. These new standards are set to be launched in early 2018 alongside a comprehensive accreditation, monitoring and support process.

Unfortunately, we are unable to disclosure all of the work we have been involved in this year due to the sensitive or confidential nature of some important projects. However, we have been absolutely privileged to work in partnership with some wonderful organisations and professionals this year, who share our goal to improve the response to sexual violence.

This year has seen us be invited to speak at a range of conferences, events and meetings. Our highlight occurred in June, when our joint Chief Executives, Stephanie Reardon and Kim Doyle, were invited to speak to the United Nations in Geneva about the response to domestic and sexual violence in the UK. It was a great privilege to be recognised for our expertise and absolutely fascinating to meet colleagues from other counties and learn how they respond to domestic and sexual violence.

This blogpost includes a snapshot of some of the work we have done in 2017, which has without doubt been another great year for LimeCulture. We would like to thank each and every one of our customers, friends and partners. We cannot express how grateful we are for your support.

We are excited about 2018 – we have so much planned that we can’t wait to share with you in the new year!

We wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

The LimeCulture Core Team




#MeToo? Are employers really ready to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour?

Over the last month or so, we have seen an explosion in the number of people – mainly women but men too – who are saying they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour. We purposefully use the term ‘unwanted sexual behaviour’ here, because it is important that it covers the whole spectrum of behaviour from sexual harrassment, right through to rape, which is a serious criminal offence, and everything in between. This is important because the distinctions are not always clear and the impact is not always the same.

Since the first allegations were made about Harvey Weinstein over in Hollywood, we have seen a whole range of similar allegations being made against other people, more often than not in more powerful positions than the people it has been claimed that they have touched, groped or assaulted. The recent #MeToo campaign has quickly highlighted the staggering scale of this problem.

Whether it be in a Hollywood production company, a political party, an elite sport, an estate agency, a law firm, a theatre….or wherever, it has quickly become clear that this is a societal problem. However, because of the bravery of a few people at first, then the more people that followed, it is becoming increasingly clear that this kind of unwanted sexual behaviour is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.

The big problem, of course, is how do we tackle unwanted sexual behaviour?  At LimeCulture, we have been grappling with this issue long before the Weinstein story broke. We wholeheartedly agree that unwanted sexual behaviour is a societal problem that needs to be routed out and confronted. If there is a law that has been broken then if the victim so chooses to report it, it should be investigated and then prosecuted. However, unwanted sexual behaviour is not always as clear cut as that. There will be times when the law alone is not enough, or the victim does not want to report it to the police, and it should be the responsibility of others to act to prevent or stop unwanted sexual behaviour. It will also be for others to protect those who have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour, at whatever end of the spectrum, and respond appropriately to their needs.

So who does that responsibility belong to? Well we know this kind of behaviour often occurs when there is an imbalance of power. When somebody is senior and the other person is junior. When somebody is the boss and the other person is not. When somebody is experienced and the other person is learning. We know that this kind of thing happens in the workplace. Therefore, we think the starting point (and it is just that, a starting point) should be a focus on employers and making sure that organisations take responsibility for the people they employ.  Are they doing everything they should or could they be doing more to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour? Lets start here.

Nobody disputes that employers have responsibility for their employees.  This means that they also have a responsibility to their staff to respond appropriately to any disclosure of unwanted sexual behaviour, be that an act of harassment or a sexual assault.

Most organisations should and probably do have HR policies and procedures to deal with complaints or disputes, which will be dealt with through a disciplinary process. However, are these fit for purpose when it comes to handling allegations of unwanted sexual behaviour? Probably not.

We know from talking to a range of organisations that quite often any complaint that is made would go up the chain of authority….but what if the person who committed the unwanted sexual behaviour is at the top of the tree? Or the line manager who is supposed to be conducting the investigation or handling the complaint? This doesn’t work.  Or what if those in  HR, just doesn’t ‘get’ what all the fuss is about?  This doesn’t do much to create a culture where people feel able to speak up, which is surely what any employing organisations should aspire to.

At LimeCulture, the reason we  think the average HR disciplinary policy is probably not fit for this type of allegation is the sensitive nature of this type of behaviour and the risk and needs of the victim that may result as a consequence of the unwanted sexual behaviour. How you handle somebody who is repeatedly late for work, for example, should not be the same way as a disclosure of sexual violence.

So what is different when somebody discloses unwanted sexual behaviour? Well, over and above supporting them in relation to their employment needs, (e.g., what they need in the workplace to allow them to continue to do their job), an employer who supports that staff member effectively, will also want to consider the wider support needs of that person, particularly if it follows behaviour at the more ‘serious’ end of the spectrum, such as a sexual assault. In addition to their employment needs (they may need time off work, they may need to move desks or even offices), 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.

Importantly, the employing organisation should want to ensure that they have acted appropriately when the disclosure was made to them. The organisation will also need to be sure that it’s involvement has not done anything to undermine a future criminal prosecution or contaminated evidence relating to the sexual offence in the event that the employee wants to report the matter to the police at any point either now or in the future. Furthermore, HR or other 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 employing organisation has had in relation to an offence.

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

Sometimes the hardest thing for somebody who has experienced unwanted sexual behaviour is telling another person about their experience. They often feel guilt or shame about their experience or they might be worried that they won’t be believed. This is compounded when the perpetrator is a manager, or in a more senior position.  These factors all contribute to the barriers that stop people coming forward. But now we are seeing the tide is turning and we have to support those people who are brave enough to come forward. If we make it clear to everyone within an organisation that your employers will listen to you, offer you advice and can support you if you have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour, no matter at what end of the spectrum it sits, then we begin to remove – or at least begin to break down – some of those barriers.

It is the complexity around this area that has led LimeCulture to realise that we simply cannot expect all employers to get this right. Our work with other big institutions has shown us just how complex these sensitive issues are to get right. But it is so very important that we do. That is why at LimeCulture are bringing together our partners and trying to find solutions for employing organisations who have a duty not to fail their staff who have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace.

We are currently putting together a package of support for employing organisations that includes:

  • Independent review of organisational policies and practices to ensure they are fit for purpose to handle cases of sexual harassment/violence
  • Developing organisational strategies for tackling unwanted sexual behaviour
  • Reviewing existing HR policies to ensure they are suitable to respond to disclosure of unwanted sexual behaviour including sexual harassment right through to disclosures of rape
  • Training key staff members to respond appropriately to the needs of victims
  • Developing appropriate approaches towards the interviewing of victims and perpetrators
  • Development of case management processes for handling cases of unwanted sexual behaviour

If you would like more information about the support that LimeCulture can provide to employers, please contact us

LimeLight Award 2017: The winners are….

The 3rd National ISVA Conference ‘Knowledge & Network’, hosted by LimeCulture took places yesterday (28 September 2017) in Manchester. It was another fantastic event with more than 100 ISVAs coming together from across England,  Wales and Northern Ireland to share knowledge, learn about topics that affect their practice and network with their peers.

LimeCulture introduced the LimeLight Awards last year (2016) to acknowledge the outstanding contributions and achievements of individual ISVAs, ISVA Teams and ISVA Managers who have demonstrated excellence, dedication and commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence through their work.

Baroness Helen Newlove, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales congratulated the shortlisted nominees and announced the winner of each category. The winners were invited to the stage, where they were presented with their LimeLight Award – to lots of applause and cheers from the audience of ISVAs.

Award 1: Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults went to Barbara Pawson from Arch North East

James Seward, Member of the LimeCulture Independent Advisory Board, said of the winner Barbara Pawson “The three short-listed nominees for this award are outstanding, but the winner of this category has made an exceptional contribution to supporting clients and going above and beyond in engaging with her local community making it safe for people to come forward. 

Photo: Barbara Pawson of Arch North East © 2017 by Geoff Reardon Photography

Award 2: The Vicky Bardsley Prize: Oustanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People went to Heather Ind of Spring Lodge, Lincolnshire SARC.

“The contenders for this award are all truly fantastic and doing amazing work. The winner has made an outstanding contribution to setting up the service in her area, developing age appropriate supports and been commended by her local police service for her work”

Unfortunately, Heather was unable to collect her LimeLight Award in person. Heather has recently become a mum to a beautiful baby girl. Congratulations Heather on the birth of your lovely daughter.

Photo: Amanda Farquar and Gail Barker of Spring Lodge with Stephanie Reardon and Kim Doyle from LimeCulture holding a “For Heather’ sign! © 2017 by Geoff Reardon Photography

Award 3: Exceptional ISVA Team went to Herts SARC ISVA Team

All the teams nominated for this award are doing fantastic work and they are all demonstrating the value of working in supportive, close-knit teams. The winning team is well-established, high-performing and making a real impact in their local community”.


Photo: Dani Reece of Herts SARC ISVA Team © 2017 by Geoff Reardon Photography


Award 4: Inspirational ISVA Manager went to Ruth Nash of Ynys Saff (Safe Island) Cardiff SARC.

“All the Managers nominated for this award are inspirational leaders who bring exceptional abilities to their teams. However, the award goes to a Manager who has combined the ability to successfully work with partners even at times of pressure with building a safe, nurturing environment to enable her team to develop effectively”.

Unfortunately, Ruth was not able to attend the LimeLight Awards Ceremony, but Debbie Donaldson (ISVA at Ynys Saff) collects the award on her Manager’s behalf

Photo: Debbie Donaldson of Ynys Saff © 2017 by Geoff Reardon Photography


LimeCulture would like to thank everybody who nominated an ISVA, an ISVA Team or an ISVA Manager to make the 2017 LimeLight Awards a great success! We would also like to say congratulations to the other 8 individuals ISVAs and Teams who were shortlisted for the awards across all 4 categories- a fantastic achievement in itself due to the quality of the services provided by the 400 ISVAs and 100+ ISVA Teams working across the UK.

Dame Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, chairing the event said that ISVAs are ‘unmatched’ in the support they provide to victims and survivors of sexual violence to meet their needs, including supporting them through the criminal justice process.


Baroness Newlove said she was ‘truly honoured’ to present the LimeLight Awards at the National ISVA Conference. She said, “all ISVAs are winners, but the LimeLight Awards are a wonderful way of rewarding the work of exceptional ISVAs’.


Photos: Baroness Newlove, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales presents awards to the LimeLight Awards 2017 winners. (Top Right) Barbara Pawson from Arch North East. (Top Right) Amanda Farquar – Heather Ind’s (very proud) Manager. (Bottom Left) Dani Reece for Herts SARC ISVA Team. (Bottom Right) Debbie Donaldson collects the award for her Manager (Ruth Nash). © 2017 by Geoff Reardon Photography


LimeCulture publishes new findings about victims in sexual offences trials being questioned about previous sexual history

Today LimeCulture publishes new findings about unfair questioning of victims about previous sexual history in sexual offence trials.

A survey into Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) and court cases that they have attended over a two-year period – April 2015 – April 2017 – has revealed that Section 41 of the Youth Justice Crime and Evidence Act 1999 is not always being applied in line with Government guidelines.

As a result, LimeCulture – the leading national sexual violence training and development organisation – and Baroness Newlove , the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales are recommending independent legal representation and advice to be made available for complainants in cases where the defence wish to introduce questioning about their previous sexual history, to ensure Section 41 is applied correctly.

Section 41 was introduced in 1999 to protect victims from unfair questioning about their previous sexual history during court proceedings. According to the findings from this new research, proper processes relating to Section 41 JYCEA 1999 were not applied consistently across England and Wales.

The findings also show that complainants are not consistently informed about the intention to question them about their sexual history, which could also mean there is no opportunity for the prosecution to challenge this or to take instructions or to call witnesses to challenge the facts of the sexual history being discussed. As victims of sexual crime do not have access to independent legal representation it is up to the judge or prosecution to ensure Section 41 is upheld correctly. This is not happening in all cases.

The report can be found here.

For any queries about the findings from the new research please contact LimeCulture on 0203 633 0018 or email

For press enquiries please contact Becky Roberts on 07925 937080, Jaime Gee on 0161 850 0565 or email or