Applications now open for 10 new services to join the Independent Accreditation Programme for the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims / Survivors of Sexual Violence

Following funding from the Home Office, the Male Survivors Partnership in conjunction with LimeCulture CIC, has announced that 10 new services will be able to participate in the Independent Accreditation Programme for the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence in 2019 free of charge! Since their launch in January 2018, the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence have been downloaded hundreds of times, and we already have over thirty services are working towards accreditation.  That means many services are already working to improve consistency, practice and the overall quality of services supporting male victims/survivors.

The Quality Standards and the Implementation Guidance for Commissioners and Service Providers are available online, free of charge: There are 24 Quality Standards across four domains; Leadership & Governance, Access & Engagement, Service Delivery and Outcomes & Evaluation. They set out the expectations of the organisation’s leadership and staff and also the client experience.  The Quality Standards create a framework and benchmark that can be used to develop and improve service provision for male victims/survivors, in particular recognising their gender-based needs.

Sitting alongside the Quality Standards is the Independent Accreditation Programme, delivered by LimeCulture CIC.   The programme will award a Quality Mark to services that demonstrate they meet the Quality Standards through a robust and independent accreditation process of documentary evidence review, interviews and site visits.

Ordinarily, the cost of joining the Independent Accreditation Programme is £3,500 + VAT which covers a service, which is based at a single site.  However the Home Office funding has enabled us to offer 10 services the opportunity to join the Independent Accreditation Programme free of charge!

If you would like to join, please ensure you submit your application and self-assessment before 5pm on Friday 25th January 2019 and we will notify services as soon as possible if they have been successful. Please note, as the Home Office funding allows for 10 new services, submission of an application does not guarantee a place on this intake. 

The application form including self-assessment are available from our website here.

For further information or an informal discussion please contact the Independent Accreditation Team on 0203 6330018 or email and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.


Quality Standards for ISVA Services – Independent Accreditation Programme Launch

In October 2018 at the National ISVA Conference in Birmingham, LimeCulture CIC launched the Quality Standards for Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Services.

The development of these new Quality Standards included consultation with a wide range of ISVA services, commissioners and individuals who have accessed ISVA services.

LimeCulture CIC launched the Quality Standards for Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Services at the National ISVA Conference in Birmingham on 17 October 2018.

They are made up of 20 individual standards across four domains; Leadership & Governance, Access & Engagement, Service Delivery and Outcomes & Evaluation.

The Quality Standards create a framework and benchmark that can be used to develop and improve ISVA service provision. They set out the expectations for the organisational leadership and staff and the client experience.

The Quality Standards and the implementation guidance for commissioners and service providers are available online free of charge and include information about the background and process of their development.

The main purpose of these Quality Standards is to improve consistency, practice and the overall quality of ISVA services across the UK. They create a framework and can be used as a benchmark to drive up standards and improve ISVA service provision.

During the development and consultation phases, ISVA service providers and commissioners reported that ensuring a robust process to independently determine whether ISVA Services are meeting the Quality Standards should be prioritised. To this end, LimeCulture is launching an Independent Accreditation Programme for ISVA services wishing to adopt and implement these Quality Standards. Services assessed as meeting the Quality Standards will achieve a Quality Mark.

Since launching the standards we have received expressions of interest for the independent accreditation programme from commissioners and providers across the United Kingdom.

In order to manage the demand, we will be allowing ISVA Services to join the Independent Accreditation Programme at scheduled intakes throughout 2019. The intakes are scheduled every two months throughout the year, and places will be allocated on the next available intake.

The first accreditation workshop will take place in mid-February 2019 (location to be confirmed).

Details on the accreditation process including timescale, costs and the application form (which includes a self-assessment) are now available from our website

Applications should be submitted before the 5pm on Friday 11 January 2019 and we will notify services as soon as possible which intake they can join.  In order to proceed we will require payment information (purchase order confirmation or equivalent).

For further information or an informal discussion please contact the Independent Accreditation Team on 0203 6330018 or email and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

LimeLight Awards 2018. The Winners are……

The 4th National ISVA Conference, ‘Knowledge & Network’, hosted by the Chair of LimeCulture’s Advisory Board, Keir Starmer QC MP, took place on 17 September 2018 in Birmingham. It was another fantastic event with ISVAs coming together from across England and Wales to share knowledge, learn about topics that affect their practice and network with their peers.

LimeCulture introduced the LimeLight Awards in 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/survivors of sexual violence through their work.

Here at LimeCulture, we were once again absolutely blown away by the nominations for this years’ LimeLight Awards. We received a huge number of nominations in each of the four categories, which  shows the commitment and support to these important awards.

We are thrilled to report the WINNERS of the 2018 LimeLight Awards are:

Award 1: Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults went to Rachel Bloomer of Safelink

Katy Woodger, Member of the LimeCulture Independent Advisory Board, said of the winner Rachel Bloomer “All three shortlisted nominees for this award have achieved above and beyond their roles, they all manage large and often complex caseloads, but for her exemplary work in engaging with those who have learning disabilities and mental health support needs, the award goes to Rachael Bloomer”

Photo: Rachel Bloomer of Safelink © 2018 by Geoff Reardon Photography


Award 2: The Vicky Bardsley Prize: Oustanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People went to Hannah Mart of Amethyst SARC

“Fantastic work is being done with energy and enthusiasm by all three of the shortlisted ISVAs in this category.  However, the winner has quite literally gone the extra mile. For her dedication to her job and in raising funds by climbing Snowdon to do it!”

Photo: Hannah Mart of Amethyst SARC © 2018 by Geoff Reardon Photography


Award 3: Exceptional ISVA Team went to Notts SVS Services- ISVA Team

“All the teams nominated for this award demonstrate an exceptional level of support to their clients and fellow team members. In recognition of this and the outstanding support offered by this team to those in prison and those who have been involved in institutional abuse cases”

Photo: Notts SVS Services- ISVA Team© 2018 by Geoff Reardon Photography


Award 4: Inspirational ISVA Manager went to Michelle Mountfort of The Havens, London

“All the Managers nominated for this award are inspirational leaders. However, this year’s award goes to a Manager who is attentive, approachable and supportive

Photo: Michelle Mountfort of The Havens, London © 2018 by Geoff Reardon Photography

LimeCulture would like to thank everybody who nominated an ISVA, an ISVA Team or an ISVA Manager to make the 2018 LimeLight Awards a great success! We would also like to say congratulations to the 4 individual ISVAs, 2 Managers and 2 ISVA Teams who were shortlisted for the 2018 awards across all 4 categories- a fantastic achievement in itself due to the quality of the services provided by the 110+ ISVA Teams now working across the UK.

LimeLight Awards 2018: Shortlisted Nominations Announced

LimeCulture are delighted to announce the shortlisted nominations for the 2018 LimeLight Awards. The winners will be revealed during a special ceremony at the 4th National Conference for ISVAs on Wednesday 17 October 2018.

Once again, here at LimeCulture we have been absolutely blown away by the nominations that have been sent in for this years’ LimeLight Awards. We’ve received a huge number of nominations in each of the four categories, which is absolutely fantastic and shows the commitment to support these awards.

All of the categories have now been carefully considered as part of the shortlisting process, which was completed in two stages; an initial sift (which selected 6 nominations in each category) and a final sift (which selected 3 nominations from the initial sift in each category). These two stages were conducted independently of one another and by different members of the LimeCulture Core Team so as to be as fair and objective as possible.

LimeLight Awards – Shortlisted Nominees 2018

Award 1: Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults

This category looks to celebrate excellent practice carried out by UK-based individual ISVAs. This LimeLight Award celebrates the achievements of an individual ISVA supporting adults who have demonstrated commitment, passion and exceptional encouragement and support for their adult clients.

Our 2018 shortlisted nominations for this award are:

  1. Abby Dowson– Arch North East
  2. Rachel Bloomer – Safelink 
  3. Helen Race – Survivors Network

Award 2: Vicky Bardsley Prize: Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People

This LimeLight Award is in honour and memory of Vicky Bardsley, an accredited ISVA who worked at the Rape and Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) supporting Children and Young People. Vicky sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2015 leaving behind her family, many friends and her committed colleagues at RSVP, and a positive legacy for the many sexually abused children and young people that she has supported.

This LimeLight Award celebrates the achievements of an individual ISVA supporting children and young people who has demonstrated commitment, passion and exceptional encouragement and support for their young clients.

Our 2018 shortlisted nominations for this award are:

  1. Shannon Little – Victim Support West Yorkshire ISVA Service
  2. Hannah Mart – Amethyst SARC
  3. Katrina Blake RSVP

Award 3: Exceptional ISVA Team

This award looks to recognise UK-based ISVA teams or services of all sizes and sectors who are leading the way in the provision of ISVA services. This LimeLight award seeks to reward an ISVA team or service that has made a significant contribution to supporting their clients.

Our 2018 shortlisted nominations for this award are:

  1. Notts SVS Services ISVA Team
  2. St Mary’s SARC ISVA Team
  3. Survivors Network ISVA Team

Award 4: Inspirational ISVA Manager

This category looks to reward UK-based Managers of ISVA Teams or Services. This LimeLight Award seeks to recognise and reward an ISVA Manager who has taken a fresh approach to leading, developing and managing an ISVA Service or Team.

  1. Michelle Mountford – The Havens, SARCS for London
  2. Sally Hutton – Guildford RASASC
  3. Gemma Malfesi – Notts SVS Services

LimeCulture would like to congratulate each of the nominees that has been shortlisted for a LimeLight Award. With the existence of such a committed and dynamic ISVA workforce, to be nominated for a LimeLight Award is a great achievement. Each of the shortlisted nominees should be extremely proud of this important professional achievement.

We would also like to express our thanks to everybody who took the time to nominate an ISVA, ISVA Team or a Manager for a LimeLight Award. There are clearly a whole range of individuals, teams and Managers providing excellent services throughout the country!  From reading the impressive nominations, is clear to us at LimeCulture that all of the nominees are truly appreciated by others, whether it be peers, colleagues, managers and/or the people that they support. Well done to each and every one of you!

The shortlisted nominations will be reviewed by Katy Woodger who is a member of LimeCulture’s Independent Advisory Board. Katy has been given the responsibility of selecting the winner of each category, which will be announced at the National Conference for ISVAs on Tuesday 17 October 2018

Through the introduction of the LimeLight Awards in 2016, LimeCulture was seeking 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.

We are delighted that the awards are now in their 3rd year and are growing from strength to strength with more nominations being submitted each year. 

At LimeCulture we believe that ISVAs deserve to be properly recognised for the important, challenging and professional work they do to support those who have experienced sexual violence. The LimeLight Awards are intended to be a first step in the direction of professional recognition of ISVAs and their services.

Supporting Older People advanced training for ISVAs gets off to an ‘Outstanding’ Start

This week LimeCulture has launched a brand new Elective of the Advanced Development programme (ADP) for accredited ISVAs. Elective 3 is our new 2-day course ‘Supporting Older People’, which aims to equip ISVAs with the confidence and competence to effectively support older people who have experienced sexual violence.

The course has been developed by LimeCulture’s Training Team in partnership with SafeLives (who will be delivering equivalent training to IDVAs) and AgeUK, who provided their expertise around how best to engage and work with older people.


LimeCulture has developed the Advanced Development Programme as continued professional development for ISVAs. The Electives have been developed to be provide additional modules of training allowing ISVAs to gain specific knowledge and skills in supporting specific clients groups.

“The role of an ISVA is challenging” says Bernie Ryan, LimeCulture’s Training and Development Director. “There is so much they need to know and understand in order to support people and perform their role  effectively. Therefore it is vital that they receive appropriate training to become the highly skilled professionals that they need to be”.  Bernie explains that LimeCulture’s core training programme offered to new or untrained ISVAs – the ISVA Development Programme, a 6-modular course comprising of  12 days training, is absolutely key to the role of the ISVA. ‘The training focuses on critical key components of the role such as, understanding the role of the ISVA including responsibilities and relationships with other professionals, boundaries of the role, identification, assessment and management of risk and support needs, safeguarding, criminal and civil justice processes.  All elements of this course are crucial to ensure that ISVAs are equipped to perform their duties and ensure safety of their clients, themselves and their employing organisation ”.

LimeCulture teach their ISVA Development Programme over a 6-month period, with a 2-day module taking place each month. “This allows the ISVAs the time and space to learn and reflect on their practice without being overwhelmed by the intensity of the information that is contained within the course” explains Bernie. The ISVA Development Programme provides ISVAs with the core knowledge and skills they need and to ultimately pass the strict accreditation requirements associated with the LimeCulture ISVA Development Programme.

 In addition to the core programme, LimeCulture offer ongoing training and development opportunities with their Advanced Development Programmes explains Bernie. “We know that clients have individual needs, and therefore ISVAs have the opportunity to gain additional skills and knowledge to support them effectively. For example, an ISVA who supports children and young people must have all the core skills and competencies required to undertake the ISVA role, yet they will also need additional training to work effectively with children and young people in an environment that is significantly different to supporting adults. The same goes for working with sex workers, or supporting people who are suicidal and have ongoing mental health difficulties, or people who have been exploited by gangs, and so on”.

 Bernie explains that LimeCulture developed the Advanced Development Programme as a means of adding important specialist training to the professional toolbox required by ISVAs. “It’s an important principle that ISVA should be accessing ongoing professional training to keep themselves and their practice up to date, so we created the ADP as a means to enhance the skills and knowledge of ISVAs by providing them with a range of electives that are relevant to their professional practice and keep them progressing, learning and developing as professional ISVAs.”

Bernie explains the ADP was created because of ISVAs sharing their concerns with LimeCulture about certain topics or specifically requesting training in key areas. “We are always looking to add new Electives to support ISVAs in  their roles more effectively. So we are absolutely delighted to be able to offer the 3rd ADP Elective which focuses on supporting older people. Older people are a client group who face additional barriers to engagement following sexual assault but also have quite distinct needs when it comes to how best to support them”.

This week in Manchester, LimeCulture’s trainers delivered Elective 3 for the first time to 18 experienced ISVAs. “The LimeCulture Training Team has been developing the course content and material for months now and its been absolutely brilliant to work alongside specialists to ensure that our training really enables ISVAs to engage and support older people in an effective way. We have been so excited about delivering this course and we believe it will really make a difference to how ISVA support is delivered to this client group”. Generally, not much is known about older people in relation to sexual violence. “They are a largely hidden group of people, who don’t routinely come forward to report abuse or access support but we know that they are vulnerable and older people do experience sexual violence, so at LimeCulture we wanted to do more to make ISVA services more accessible to older people and their needs”.

Bernie says she is “absolutely thrilled” with how well the new course went this week, with feedback from the ISVAs far exceeding her expectations. “The feedback has been absolutely brilliant. As it was the 1st delivery of the new course, we specifically asked the ISVAs to really consider their feedback and tell us if anything should be changed or altered, to support its further development and suggest improvement for future delegates. We are delighted by how well the training was received and the engagement of all the ISVAs attending this course in Manchester”.

One ISVA wrote “This elective has been outstanding. I’ve never really considered the needs of older people before, but after this course I can see that it is vital that we recognise supporting them as a key area of specialism – in the same way we do with supporting children”. Another ISVAs wrote “the ADP is a fantastic vehicle for experienced ISVAs to come to LimeCulture, benefit from your trainers awesome knowledge, meet other ISVAs from other areas and different services to grow as a professional. ADP 3 does not disappoint. Another fantastic learning experience”.

Bernie says this kind of feedback is exactly what she aspires to. “LimeCulture continues to be the leading ISVA training provider and we take that position and privilege very seriously indeed. We know that the overwhelming majority of ISVA services choose us to train their staff because of the quality of the training we provide. Our training is continually updated and reviewed to make sure it is up to date and fit for purpose. We also know that ISVAs benefit from being brought together, so we place great weight on the peer relationships created on our training courses”. Bernie explains how, as the leading provider of ISVA training, LimeCulture is able to bring together ISVAs from a range of service providers so that ISVAs can learn from each other and improve their practice by sharing their own experiences, good or bad. “For us, the key to our success is making sure that the ISVAs can gain knowledge and skills from our expert trainers, but also from each other with their different experiences, services and employers. We encourage group interaction and sharing of experiences and that’s what makes our training so rich and our feedback consistently excellent overall.”


LimeCulture is offering 100 LimeCulture trained ISVAs free places on the ADP 3 courses taking place between now and March 2019.

If you have not yet booked a place on one of the courses, please do so via the ADP Elective 3 online booking form.





Click here to book Elective 1: Supporting Clients with Specific Needs

Click here to book Elective 2: Supporting Children and Young people

Members required to join a new Working Group to oversee LimeCulture’s Spreading Excellence Project

LimeCulture is delighted to announce their exciting new project. ‘Spreading Excellence’ is a Home Office funded project that has been created by LimeCulture to support the sexual violence sector to ensure excellent services are available for victims/survivors.

The Spreading Excellence project aims to improve the capacity and capability of the sexual violence sector to make certain that high-quality and effective services are available for all. This will be achieved through the influence and engagement of service users, service providers, commissioners and policy leads working together collaboratively.

We are looking to establish a new national Working Group to oversee the schedule of work for the Spreading Excellence Project. We are keen to ensure members of the Working Group are representative of the sexual violence sector, and that service users, service providers, commissioners and policy leads are equally represented.  The creation of the Working Group presents a real opportunity to ensure that new ideas, thinking and plans are encouraged to flourish and develop to contribute to the spread of excellence throughout the sexual violence sector. As we strive to develop the sexual violence sector, new and emerging voices are actively encouraged to apply to join the Working Group.

To this end, we are looking to recruit Working Group members who are:

  • Passionate about developing the sexual violence sector
  • Committed to working collaboratively to bring about meaningful change
  • Dedicated to promoting and sharing excellent practice to raise sector standards

Working Group members will be expected to attend two meetings in London, which will take place during Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 (dates to be announced).

Please note: These are voluntary positions and it will not be possible to renumerate members for their time or travel, although a bursary contribution may be accessible for service-users and service providers.

LimeCulture are seeking expressions of interest from individuals who would like to become members of the Spreading Excellence Working Group. If you would like to express an interest, please email by 12 noon Monday 1 October 2018.

Please provide a brief summary of your background and/or experience and why you would like to become a member of the Spreading Excellence Working Group.

If you would like an informal discussion about the Working Group please call 0203 633 0018.




2018 LimeLight Awards are now open for nominations

LimeCulture CIC is excited  to be hosting the 4th National Conference for Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) ‘Knowledge & Network”, which will take place on 17 October 2018. This major event for ISVA Services will be taking place in Birmingham.

It is widely recognised that ISVAs play an integral role in providing support and responding to those who have experienced sexual violence. 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.

The LimeLight Awards were introduced by Sir Keir Starmer at the 2016 National ISVA Conference 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.

Sandra Lewin is the Manager of Herts SARC and is responsible for the ISVA Team who won last year’s (2017) LimeLIght Award for Exceptional ISVA Team. She says “Since my ISVA’s won the award, we have noticed several sexual abuse organisations across the country have made contact to seek advice and confirm our processes and procedures. We have also had several high profile visits by strategic partners, these were the Chief Constable, PCC’s office, NHS lead on SARC’s to mention a few, which raising the profile of the SARC in general to partner agencies. We have also noticed it has raised our profile on social media which in turn has increased our referral for the service. We had a 45% increase in referrals on previous year! Finally, I noticed that it gave the ISVA’s themselves a boost, they personally received a small recognition gift from Mountain Healthcare. All in all it’s definitely worth nominating ISVA’s for these awards, good luck for all the nominations this year”.

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 11 June and close on 14 September 2019.

LimeLight Awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Knowledge & Network: An Event for ISVAs on 17 October 2018. 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




Join the LimeCulture Core Team – We’re Recruiting!

We are delighted to be looking for two exceptional individuals to join LimeCulture CIC.

We are looking for two (part-time) Administrators to join our hard-working, fun and committed Core Team.



Could it be you?

Training & Development Administrator (Role A)

This role is part time (25 hours per week) and the salary is £24,000 pro rata. To view the job description and person specification please click here

Programmes Administrator (Role B) 

This role is part time (15 hours per week) and the salary is £24,000 pro rata. To view the job description and person specification please click here

If you would like to apply for either of the above roles, please send a covering letter and your cv to The deadline is 5pm,  Friday 22 June 2018.

If you would like an informal chat with us about the role, please contact us (via and we will arrange a suitable time to call you.

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