Bernie Ryan joins LimeCulture’s Core Team

LimeCulture is delighted that Bernie Ryan has now joined their Core Team as Training and Development Manager.  As reported in a recent blog post, due to LimeCulture’s steadily increasing workload and their recent success in being awarded a number of significant new contracts, there has been an urgent need to strengthen the Core Team to meet the demands while continuing to ensuring their high standards of quality remains a key priority.

Bernie, who joined the Core Team this week, will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of LimeCulture’s significant training and development work stream. This will include managing the delivery of their accredited professional training courses for ISVAs, as well as managing the significant requests for bespoke and in-house training that LimeCulture receive from a range services and organisations. Bernie will also oversee the development and delivery of LimeCulture’s new Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Development Programme aimed at key university and higher education institutions (HEI), which will be launched in November. Bernie has also been tasked with developing a specialist course for counsellors and psychological therapists working with people who have been sexually abused, taking in to account the pre-trial therapy requirements and disclosure of records, a course that will be launched next year.

Bernie has been involved with LimeCulture since 2011, when the organisation was established. Bernie has been a key trainer on the ISVA Development Programme and for Crisis Worker training, as well as acting as a consultant on a number of LimeCulture’s bespoke consultancy and service improvement projects. In addition to her on-going involvement with LimeCulture, Bernie comes with an impressive cv and extensive professional background supporting victims and survivors of sexual violence more generally.

A trained nurse and qualified counsellor by background, Bernie’s most recent role was as Manager of the (internationally recognised) St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Manchester, which she developed and led over a period of 15 years. St. Mary’s is a co-ordinated NHS SARC made up of a range of professionals including forensic doctors, counsellors, crisis workers and ISVAs, who together provide high-quality support to children and adults following sexual assault.  As part of her role at St Mary’s SARC, Bernie was selected as a SARC Operations expert adviser to the Department of Health’s National Support Team for Response to Sexual Violence (2009-2011). For several years between 2005 to 2015, Bernie was the chair of the National SARC Advisory Group and the North West SARC Advisory Group, each role meaning that Bernie has had a significant impact on the way SARCs have been developed nationally. Bernie has sat on a range of national, regional and local boards, committees and steering groups, at both strategic and operational level, to influence and improve the response to sexual violence across the UK – an area that Bernie is extremely passionate about.

In recent years, Bernie has frequently been involved in the delivery of training frontline professionals responding to sexual violence across the UK and internationally. It is these broad range of professional experiences that give Bernie the right skills and knowledge to take on this challenging role in LimeCulture’s Core Team.

LimeCulture is delighted that Bernie Ryan has joined their Core Team and are looking forward to having her as a key member of the team.

To get in touch with Bernie please email her  or call her on 0203 633 0018

Photo: Bernie Ryan sits on the stage after speaking about the importance of SARCs at the first Knowledge & Network Event for ISVAs © 2013 by Geoff Reardon Photography

LimeCulture launches new course for University and HEI Staff- Sexual Violence Liaison Officer Development Programme

LimeCulture today launches its new accredited course the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) Development Programme. The aim of the course is to improve the confidence and competence of designated staff within Universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), to be known as Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLO), to respond appropriately to students or staff members who have experienced sexual violence, either recently or non-recently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Our Trainers

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

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

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

The course fee includes:

  • Electronic material and presentations
  • Delegate pack and note book
  • Refreshments and lunch

The SVLO Development Programme is held at our preferred training venues located in Manchester.

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

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

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


LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) is the UK’s leading sexual violence training and development organisation. We work with frontline professionals, and their organisations, to improve the response to victims of sexual violence, through our range of training and development initiatives, research and consultancy services.
We believe that all victims and survivors , regardless of where they live, their age, gender or sexual orientation, should have access to high-quality, safe and effective support services. To this end, we are committed to working with professionals and services to ensure they have the tools, knowledge, skills, competence and confidence to respond effectively, professionally and safely to safeguard the welfare of children and adults affected by sexual violence.


LimeLight Awards. And the winner is….

The National ISVA Conference ‘Knowledge & Network’, hosted by LimeCulture took places yesterday (28 September 2015) in Manchester. It was a fantastic event with 120 ISVAs coming together from across England and Wales to  share knowledge, learn about topics that affect their practice and network with their peers.

LimeCulture used the opportunity of having so many ISVAs together in one room to hold the award ceremony of the first ever LimeLight Awards. Through the introduction of the LimeLight Awards, LimeCulture seek 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.

Member of Parliament Keir Starmer QC congratulated the shortlisted nominees and announced the winner of each category (once 120 ISVAs had finished banged their hands on the table to create the sound of a drum roll!). 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 Yehudis Goldsobel, from Migdal Emunah.

Alison Pemberton, Member of the LimeCulture Independent Advisory Board, said of the winner Yehudis Goldsobel “The three shortlisted nominees for this award are outstanding, but the winner of this category is truly exceptional. In a uniquely challenging community, she has made significant progress”.

Photo: Yehudis Goldsobel, Migdal Emunah © 2016 by Geoff Reardon Photography

Award 2: The Vicky Bardsley Prize: Oustanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Children & Young People went to Helen Leach  of RASA Merseyside.

“The contenders for this category are all truly amazing. The winner of this award has set up an entire new service for children and young people from scratch – a superb achievement”.

Photo: Helen Leach, RASA Merseyside © 2016 by Geoff Reardon Photography

Award 3: Exceptional ISVA Team went to RSVP Advocacy Service

All these teams do wonderful work and put in enormous beyond-the-call-of duty effort and care to the people they are supporting in their caseloads. However, one team has had a particularly difficult extra challenge this year which they have pulled together to meet in tragic and trying circumstances. They are a team who lost one of their number to cancer and yet still managed to absorb that person’s workload and make sure that no-one in their area went unsupported”

Photo: RSVP Advocacy Service © 2016 by Geoff Reardon Photography

Award 4: Inspirational ISVA Manager went to Rebecca Hitchin of RASASC, South London. Sadly, Rebecca was unable to collect her award in person due to being unwell.

LimeCulture would like to thank everybody who nominated an ISVA, an ISVA Team or an ISVA Manager to make the very first LimeLight Award 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 320+ ISVAs and 100+ ISVA Teams working across the UK.

Keir Starmer MP QC, chairing the event said that ISVAs are ‘Life Savers and Life Changers’ and truly deserved to have the vital work that they do in support of victims and survivors of sexual violence recognised. Keir Starmer said of the LimeLight Awards ‘This is a wonderful way of rewarding the work of exceptional ISVAs’.

Photo: Keir Starmer MP QC stands with the winners of the LimeLight Awards 2016 winners © 2016 by Geoff Reardon Photography






LimeLight Awards: Shortlisted Nominations Announced

Through the introduction of the LimeLight Awards, LimeCulture seek 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 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.

We are delighted by the response we have received from ISVAs and other professionals following the introductions of the LimeLight Awards and as a result, we have received a large number of nominations in each of the four categories.

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.

The following nominations have been shortlisted:

Award 1: Outstanding Achievement by an ISVA Supporting Adults

  1. Ady Lowe- Victim Support West Yorkshire
  2. Marta Almeida- Solace Women’s Aid
  3. Yehudis Goldobel – Migdal Emunah


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

  1. Margaretta Vauls – RSVP
  2. Jodie Lowndes – Crisis Point
  3. Helen Leach – RASA Merseyside


Award 3: Exceptional ISVA Team

  1. New Pathways Swansea ISVA Team
  2. Refuge Thames Valley ISVA Team
  3. RSVP ISVA Team


Award 4: Inspirational ISVA Manager

  1. Rebecca Hitchin – RASASC, South London
  2. Sally Howells – Cyfannol Women’s Aid
  3. Sarah Staverley – Amethyst SARC


The shortlisted nominations will be reviewed by Mrs Alison Pemberton who is a member of LimeCulture’s Independent Advisory Board. Alison has been given the responsibility of selecting the winner of each category, which will be announced at the National Conference for ISVAs ‘Knowledge and Network’ on Wednesday 28 September 2016.

We would like to congratulate each individual/Team/Manager 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 and testament to the professionalism of each of them.

We would also like to thank everybody who took the time to nominate an ISVA, ISVA Team or a Manager for a LimeLight Award. It is clear that there are a whole range of individuals, teams and Managers providing excellent services throughout the country. From reading the impressive nomination forms, 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 you support. Well done to you all!



The 4 Winners of the (first) 2016 LimeLight Awards will be announced at a special ceremony taking place at the National Conference of ISVAs ‘Knowledge & Network’ on 28 September 2016.

LimeCulture Invites ISVAs to Consultation Workshops in October 2016

Development of a Risk & Needs Assessment Tool for ISVAs: LimeCulture invites ISVAs to Consultation Workshops in October 2016

LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) are aware that there is currently no risk and needs assessment tool for victims of sexual violence available. Consequently, in some cases, ISVAs are not carrying out any form of risk or needs assessment with their clients leading to potentially unsafe practice.

LimeCulture CIC has been awarded a funding grant of £37,500 from the Home Office Victims Support Fund to develop a bespoke Sexual Violence Risk and Needs Assessment Tool for use by Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) working across England and Wales in support of victims and survivors of sexual violence. Once developed and tested, this bespoke Tool will be available (free of charge) to all ISVAs.

We are keen to consult with ISVAs in the development of the new bespoke Tool to ensure that it is:

  • fit for purpose (i.e., identifies individual risk and needs of victims/survivors of sexual violence),
  • meets the needs of ISVAs,
  • dovetails with existing tools used by ISVAs to measure risk or need.

As part of the development phase of the project, we are arranging 2 Consultation Workshops during October 2016 in order to consult with ISVAs on their views and suggestions around:

  • optimum scope of the bespoke Tool (i.e., what should be included, not be included)
  • look and feel of the Tool (and accompanying Toolkit)
  • how best the bespoke Tool is used/rolled out.

We will be holding workshops in the following locations:

  • Manchester – Wednesday 5 October 2016- 2-5pm
  • London- Wednesday 12 October 2016- 2-5pm

If you would like to attend, please email who will send you the location details. Places are limited and therefore will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so we advise you to confirm your attendance as soon as possible with Tahera. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist with travel costs so please check with your employer/manager before you confirm your attendance.

Risk & Needs Assessment Tool Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is LimeCulture developing a bespoke Risk and Needs Assessment Tool for ISVAs?

A. We know that ISVAs do not have access to a bespoke tool that allows them to identify the individual risk and needs of their clients. As a consequence, we are aware from the Audit of ISVAs (conducted by King’s College London & LimeCulture in 2014/5) that many ISVAs do not feel confident that they are adequately risk assessing their clients. ISVAs routinely tell us that this is of concern to them. ISVAs have been asking us to develop a bespoke Tool designed for ISVAs to use when supporting victim/survivors of sexual violence for a number of years. This funding provides us with the opportunity to do this work for the first time.

 Q. Will ISVAs be able to contribute to the development of the Tool?

A. Absolutely. LimeCulture want to consult with ISVAs throughout the development phase of the bespoke Tool to make sure that it works for ISVAs. Our key priority is to make sure that the tool is fit for purpose, and works for the people that will use it. Therefore, we are keen for ISVA’s to share their ideas with us and tell us their views. The purpose of the two Consultation Workshops is to provide ISVAs with the opportunity to do that.

Q. Why are the Consultation Workshops in London and Manchester (& will there be any more)?

A. We know that unless ISVAs are based in the cities where the workshops are taking place that most people will have to travel to attend the workshops, which can be challenging. Therefore, we have picked Manchester (in the north) and London (in the south) based on their great travel connections. The funding for this project only allows for 2 workshops so we cannot hold more in other locations unfortunately.

Q. Can I contribute to the development if I can’t attend the Workshops?

A. Absolutely. Even if you are unable to attend the workshops in person, we would love to hear your views on what the tool should include. You can contact us by email ( or you can post on the closed Facebook group ‘Network of ISVAs’ (

Q. LimeCulture has put out a ‘Call for Tools’, why?

A. While we know that the majority of ISVAs do not currently use any bespoke tools to assist them to identify or manage individual risk and client needs, we are also aware that some ISVAs have either adapted existing tools (such as DASH risk assessment) or have created their own tools or paperwork. We want to ensure that the bespoke Tool that we develop dovetails to any tools that ISVAs are already working with. We do not want to create something that means that ISVAs services have to overhaul their systems in order to implement it. We want to make the Tool as good as it can be and if ISVAs are already using something that works well, then we’d like to ensure that it is not lost or forgotten.

Q. LimeCulture got the funding for the development but by asking ISVAs to share their tools does this mean the hard work has already been done for them?

A. We have been funded  to consult with ISVAs in the development of the Tool, which includes reviewing and assessing the existing tools that ISVAs use. We know that some ISVA services have worked hard to develop the tools they use, and we appreciate this, but we do not think the work has already been done. Quite the contrary, the majority of ISVAs do not have access to bespoke tools at all and where ISVAs have developed their own they tell us they are not sure they are as good as they can be. However, we do think it is important that the bespoke Tool that we develop dovetails with tools that are already being used. We want to capture the hard work that some ISVAs services have already put in to developing their own tools, not disregard it or steal it. Where ISVA Services share their tools with us, they will be acknowledged but we will not make their tools available to others unless they want us to.

Q. Will the Tool be tested?

A. Yes it will be tested by ISVAs. Once we are a bit further into the development phase, we will start looking for “pathfinder sites’, which are volunteer ISVA Services to test the Tool with their clients. Only after the testing phase will we make the tool available to all ISVAs.

Q. Will the Tool be formally evaluated?

A. We are engaging with academics in order to arrange for the Tool to be formally evaluated. The formal evaluation is not funded as part of this project but we are keen to see that it happens and have developed plans to put this in place later on.

Q. When will the Tool be available to use by all ISVAs?

A. We expect the Tool to be available from Spring 2017- so our timeframe is short. As soon as the testing phase has been completed and we are content that it is ready for use by all ISVAs, we will make it available.

Q. Will ISVAs be supported to use the risk and needs assessment?

A. Yes, we will be running regional training events to support ISVAs to use the risk and needs assessment. We will also be developing a written toolkit which will support ISVAs to use the Tool.

Q. Will ISVAs be forced to use to the Tool?

A. No of course not. It is entirely voluntary. However, we believe that most ISVAs will want to use it if it assists them to identify and manage the individual risks of their clients.

Q. Will ISVAs have to pay to use the Tool?

A. No, this funding allows for the Tool to be rolled out free of charge. LimeCulture CIC is a not-for-profit organisation so do not conduct any of our work for commercial purposes. This includes the development of the Tool. We want it to be free for all ISVAs to use.

LimeCulture Commissioned by Male Survivors Partnership UK to develop new Service Standards

LimeCulture Community Interest Company (CIC) is delighted to be working in partnership with the Male Survivors Partnership UK, which includes Mankind, Safeline, Survivors Manchester and Survivors UK, to develop distinct service standards for working with males who have experienced sexual violence.

Commissioners and funders are increasingly recognising the importance of service providers being able to properly evidence the quality of their services. As part of this measure of quality, it is routinely expected that service providers show that they can meet and maintain the relevant service standards for their particular sector.

Service standards are an important element of service management. They help clarify expectations for service users and employees, enable performance management, and support client satisfaction. Over time, service standards contribute to enhancing coherence across the range of services that achieve them. By setting national benchmarks, we can begin to ensure equitable standards of service provision between service providers and across different geographical locations by driving up standards of performance through effective monitoring.

For the specialist sexual violence sector, there are currently two separate national service standards that have been created by two distinct umbrella organisations (Rape Crisis England & Wales and The Survivors Trust) for use by their member organisations. However, these service standards are not available to non-members of these organisations. Furthermore, neither of these service standards are specific to the needs of males and therefore do not reflect or recognise the distinct provision that is required in order to properly support males in the aftermath of rape, sexual assault or sexual exploitation.

Due to the inadequacy of these existing service standards for services supporting males, it is currently not possible to provide evidence of the quality of their services by meeting and maintaining specific service standards that relate to and provide a benchmark for this important specialism.

In light of this gap, and recognising that they are currently unable to evidence the quality of their service provision for males, four specialist organisations providing support to males approached LimeCulture CIC to request they work in partnership to create a set of new service standards that relate specifically to the provision of care and support for male victims and survivors of sexual violence.

The purpose of the new service standards for supporting males is to:

  • Provide a quality benchmark for services supporting males,
  • Create equitable service provision between providers and across geographical locations for males who have experience sexual violence (by eliminating a postcode lottery in service provision),
  • Continue to drive up standards of service provision through effective monitoring.

The new service standards will be wide ranging and will benefit:

  • Service users – who can expect a level of service that is clearly described,
  • Organisations – who can monitor their own performance against the quality benchmark (i.e. the service standards),
  • Commissioners – who can be satisfied that the services they commission meet and maintain a set of standards that are bespoke to working with males.

To this end, it is crucial that the new service standards for supporting males will be evidence based. This will mean they will be informed by

  • research literature in this specialist area,
  • service user’s involvement and
  • specialist service provider experts who can share their experience of what works well in relation to supporting males.

The new service standards will also acknowledge that in addition to the small number of male only specialist services, there is an increasing number of support services who provide specialist support for both males and females. It is an important principle that a male seeking support following a sexual assault, should have equitable support, whether they access a male only services or whether they access a service that also provides for females too. Ideally, the standards of service should be the same regardless of where the male access support. To this end, these new service standards will address also address the provision of service to male provided by services who also support females.


Services supporting males who would like further information about the development of the new service standards can contact either LimeCulture directly or any one of organisations that make up the UK Male Survivors Partnership- we’d be happy to share our plans with you! 

Becky Dewdney-York Joins LimeCulture’s Core Team

This summer has seen LimeCulture put in place plans to bolster their Core Team.  Due to LimeCulture’s steadily increasing workload and their recent success in being awarded a number of significant new contracts, there has been an urgent need to strengthen the Core Team to meet these demands while continuing to ensure their high standards of quality remain a key priority.

Following a successful recruitment drive in the spring, Becky Dewdney-York joined the Core Team in July 2016. Becky, who was appointed to Programme Delivery Manager, will be in charge of managing LimeCulture’s programmes. This will include overseeing a range of LimeCulture’s key workstreams.

Becky comes with an impressive cv and extensive professional background that spans the NHS, central government and the voluntary sector. These experiences give Becky exactly the right skills and knowledge to take on this challenging role in LimeCulture’s Core Team. Becky is a qualified PRINCE2 Practitioner with practical experience of delivering a range of projects at both local regional and national levels. Becky is outcome focused with a keen eye for detail.

Throughout Becky’s career, she has worked on a range of important programmes, often with concurrent projects, managing multiple demands from a range of stakeholders to set and achieve objectives.  Becky’s most recent role was with an acute hospital trust where she was responsible for the development and delivery of financial and quality improvement plans, often to challenging timescales and with ever increasing financial constraint. In this climate Becky proved herself to be effective in delivering outcomes and ensuring very high standards were maintained.

LimeCulture are delighted that Becky has joined their Core Team and has already picked up the mantel, introducing improvements and building relationships with LimeCulture’s valued delivery partners.

To get in touch with Becky please email her or call her at LimeCulture on 0203 633 0018

LimeCulture awarded 2nd region to provide Support Services to IICSA Truth Project

Today, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse announced contract for providing Truth Project support services in the north east.

‘Following a formal tender process, LimeCulture has been awarded a contract by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to provide support services for victims and survivors attending the Inquiry’s Truth Project in the north east.

LimeCulture will use the resources of ARCH North East to provide support workers and counsellors for the Truth Project which is due to start in the region later this month.

In accordance with our terms of reference, the Truth Project will give victims and survivors of child sexual abuse a chance to share their experiences with the Inquiry. It will also provide the Inquiry with a clearer picture of the nature, scope and scale of child sexual abuse in England and Wales’.

Stephanie Reardon, Joint CEO of LimeCulture said today “We are delighted to begin working in partnership with Arch North East to provide support to those sharing their experience with the Inquiry via the Truth Project in the North East. We are also thrilled to have been awarded this second contract with the Inquiry. We are already working hard with our partner RASA  to deliver support to those attending the Truth Project in the North West region and are looking forward to working in the North East too. The Truth Project is an incredibly important initiative and we hope that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse feel able to come forward in the knowledge they will have access to high quality support if they need or want it in these two regions”

‘Call for Tools’: Part 1 of Developing a Bespoke Risk & Needs Assessment

We are pleased to announce that LimeCulture has secured funding to allow us to develop a risk and needs assessment for ISVAs to use with their clients. Once developed and tested, our aim is to make this bespoke tool available (free of charge) to all ISVAs in England and Wales to use in support of their clients.

We have been concerned for several years about the lack of a bespoke risk and needs assessment for use with victims of sexual violence, and we’ve been told by ISVAs that they are concerned that without such a tool they feel unable to properly support their clients. So we want to do something about it to support ISVAs to support their clients more effectively!

Many ISVAs have told us that due to the lack of a bespoke tool they use existing tools (such as those meant to assess victims of domestic abuse) inappropriately to work with their own clients, and therefore they don’t feel that they are picking up the risks to a victim of sexual violence or the needs they may have. Other ISVAs have told us that they have created their own risk assessments in the absence of anything bespoke, but are not always confident that they are assessing the risks adequately or appropriately identifying needs of people who have been sexually assaulted or raped. More worrying is the number of ISVAs who do no risk assessment at all when working with their clients, and it is this that has lead us to prioritise the development of a bespoke risk and needs assessment so that all ISVAs can have access to a bespoke tool to assess risks to their clients, and identify their needs so that ISVAs can be better informed as to what support is required.

The first phase of the project is to assess and analyse the tools that are currently out there, either being used in the UK or in other countries across the globe, to see whether there is anything that can be useful for a bespoke tool for ISVAs. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel and where there are tools already out there that adequately measure risk and/or need, then we’d like to include them in the bespoke assessment for ISVAs. We have already asked colleagues in Australia, Slovenia, and the US to let us know what tools are being used in their countries. We also need to focus on the UK and what tools are being used here. Therefore, the first part of our project is a ‘Call for Tools’ where we are asking all ISVAs to share with us what they currently use to assess risk and/or need. We don’t mind if its been ‘made up’ or is a little informal, or whether its a tool that has been developed by a service or a single professional. We don’t mind if you use an existing tool like the DASH risk assessment (for domestic abuse, stalking and harassment) or GAD7 or PHQ9 or CORE or something similar. We just want to know what you use, and whether it works to identify risk and/or need for victims of sexual violence.

As part of our “Call for Tools’ we are asking the ISVA workforce to email us with information about the tools that they use to measure risk and/or needs for their clients.

We would be grateful if information or the Tools themselves could be emailed as soon as possible to


LimeCulture moves into it’s 6th year of operation. Interview with Kim Doyle & Stephanie Reardon – LimeCulture’s Joint Chief Executives.

‘Today is LimeCulture’s birthday’, explains Stephanie Reardon, one of LimeCulture’s Joint Chief Exceutives. ‘As we step forward into our 6th year of operation, its tempting to look back on all of our achievements since we started LimeCulture. We have done so very much as an organisation; pushed boundaries that we never thought possible and as a result, our work has taken us to places that we never envisaged or dared to dream possible’. Kim Doyle, LimeCulture’s other Joint Chief Executive attributes the success that LimeCulture has experience to ‘our unique oversight of the sexual violence agenda, spanning both the health and social care agenda as well as the criminal justice agenda, our thorough knowledge of policy development in this area and deep understanding of commissioning and service improvement initiatives’. Kim explains that all these unique skills and competencies has meant that LimeCulture quickly developed in to one of the leading sexual violence organisations in the UK.  ‘Steph and I have really different but complementary professional backgrounds that has helped to move things forward. We have also ensured that we bring in the best of the best to work with us. So together, as a team, we have all bases covered in relation to sexual violence and can see the whole picture, not just part of it. This is very important.’

When LimeCulture was established back in 2011 as a not-for-profit social enterprise, LimeCulture’s aim was to improve the competence and confidence of organisations, agencies and professionals who have a role in supporting victims of sexual violence. ‘We knew from previous work experiences that there was an awful lot of good will, passion and experience amongst the specialist sexual violence sector to support victims, but we also knew that there was areas for improvement. Professionals told us they didn’t always feel always confident in their abilities to support their clients, particularly if this included a journey that involved law enforcement agencies or the criminal justice process’.  This is something that squarely impacted on Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), a relatively new workforce whose role it is to support their clients through a trial, if they so choose to report to the police.  ‘We wanted to do more to support the ISVA workforce as we knew their work draws entirely on the skills we had within our brand new organisation’, reflects Kim who is  responsible for Training at LimeCulture’. ‘With that, we immediately developed a specialist training course for ISVAs in order to support this ambition. We actually thought we’d run the ISVA Development Programme once, but it has grown from strength to strength, attracting more and more ISVAs each year, and most importantly it has cemented the realisation that specialist training is required to underpin this highly specialised role that provides vital and specialist support to the most vulnerable in our society’.

Along side the training with ISVAs, LimeCulture has also developed specialist courses for other professionals working with victims of sexual violence. This has included training Crisis Workers and Counsellors for example. ‘What’s different from the ISVA Development Programme is that much of our work outside of ISVA training is delivered in-house – bespoke if you like – to meet the needs of the staff within a specific service, agency or organisation. We have really enjoyed this aspect of our training work as it allows us to go out and work with the staff within a SARC, or a counselling service, or the police, or another service and help them to develop in a way that is specific to their needs’ explains Kim. ‘ We listen to them, and get to know where they don’t feel quite so confident in their abilities and we can tailor our training to support exactly that area. It’s really very effective and the feedback we have received has been excellent’.

However, as the years have passed, LimeCulture’s role in training the ‘specialist’ staff responding to victims of sexual violence has expanded in a way that  had not been envisaged or planned. ‘We have increasingly been asked to provide training for non-specialist staff to raise awareness of sexual violence amongst their staff. This has been fantastic, as it shows how far the reputation of LimeCulture has come, spreading outside the specialist sector and beyond’. For example, LimeCulture have recently signed a contract with the Premier League to provide training to their young players about sexual consent and other important related topics, such as sexting. ‘This is a huge step forward for us as an organisation, but it also represents the recognition that sexual violence is an area that reaches far wider than just the specialist sexual violence sector.  It has an impact everywhere, and it’s excellent to see organisations such as the premier league realising that they need to take responsibility to raise awareness in their area, which is fantastic’.

Sitting along side LimeCulture’s training work, there is the Service Development arm of the organisation. ‘Our Service Development workstream has proven to be quite diverse and has included a wide range of projects over the years’  explains Stephanie, who is responsible for Operational Delivery. ‘We’ve worked with commissioners and funders, as well as service providers to see how they can develop moving forward. It’s involved us being called in to undertake Needs Assessments, and Independent Service Reviews. More recently, we were called in to a specialist service to investigate after something had gone wrong and Commissioners wanted an independent assessment of what had happened in the service and what could have lead to the outcome that had unfolded. Work like this is fascinating as it enables us to have a thorough look into the operational practices within an individual service or group of services, but as we are not embroiled in the everyday detail of delivery, we are able to see so clearly where improvements can be made, or operations can be tweaked to make things run in a more effective way. Importantly, this sort of work also exposes us to really good practice on the ground. We can see immediately where things are working very well, which is really important to highlight and communicate with others’.

LimeCulture have also been commissioned by service providers to provide Service Development support to them. ‘Sometimes the services themselves ask us to come in to undertake a review or to help them to move the service forward’.   Some services will recognise that an independent view of their service provision carries a lot of weight, and can be used to show commissioners or funders the effectiveness of what they do. While other services recognise that it’s helpful to have input from somebody external. ‘Its a brave and dynamic service that asks us to come in to review their service provision’ laughs Stephanie. ‘We won’t say a service is good unless there is evidence to show that it is! However, we’ve generally found the services that have asked us to come in to help them are extremely forward thinking and want to get things right for the people they support. They want us to be honest and help them evolve if there is a need or a gap that we identify as part of the review. It really is a two-way process that involves them being really honest and transparent about the way they operate, and once they’ve done that, we work with them to find solutions that will work for them, taking consideration of their ethos and organisational aims and boundaries. We know it can be a bit uncomfortable, painful even, to have their services unpicked and scrutinesd, but our experience is that it is overwhelmingly positive for them in the long run to have fresh eyes coming in to support them. Our team at LimeCulture is so diverse, we can send in people in with the exact skills the service needs’.

When asked what they are most proud of since establishing LimeCulture, Kim says ‘there is so much that I am proud of in relation to the work we have done since LimeCulture was established. However, I am particularly proud of the work we did for the Office of the Forensic Science Regulator for England and Wales, which involved drafting the standards and guidance for forensic medical examinations of adults and children following a sexual assault’. Kim explains ‘the effort that went into this piece of work was phenomenal. It was so complicated and technical. It required pulling together all of the key things that would enable the standards to be raised around a forensic medical examination. Currently, the standards of provision vary dramatically around the country, for a variety of reasons, but the aim of this work is to create standards that will lead to improvements for every single child or adult that has been sexually assaulted and a forensic medical examination takes place. It is a very important piece of work that has never been attempted before in this country, or in any other country, because of the complexity involved. Once these standards are implemented, I think they will change the shape of our service provision in this country and maybe in others too’.

Stephanie says that she is most proud of the work that they have at done at LimeCulture to promote the ISVA workforce. ‘When we started back in 2011, the Home Office knew of 87 ISVAs, who they part funded, but nobody really knew what ISVAs did, and even those employed themselves to carry to the ISVA role, were not always completely clear how they should be operating. Since then there has been a huge increase in the number of ISVAs, and they are beginning to be recognised for the professional and highly-skilled workforce that they are. Obviously, the ISVAs themselves have contributed to this recognition, but I think LimeCulture has done a lot to promote the workforce and lobby on their behalf. We have trained over 270 ISVAs since 2011, and this gives us the credibility to say where things need to move forward’.  LimeCulture are once again hosting the national conference for ISVAs in September, ‘Knowledge & Network’ which is being chaired by Sir Kier Starmer QC MP, the former Director of Public Prosecutions. ‘We have been able to persuade Keir of the importance of the ISVA workforce and the role they can play in making improvements for victims. He is very supportive, which is fantastic’. Stephanie adds that LimeCulture has also recently launched the LimeLight Awards, which ‘are intended as professional recognition for the work that ISVAs are doing. It’ll be really hard to pick the winners, as there is so much incredible work that is done by ISVAs, but we hope the LimeLight Awards are the start of continued recognition of the professionalism of  ISVAs across the country’.

Kim and Stephanie explain that while it is important for them to reflect on the achievements of LimeCulture, they are more focused at looking to the future and exploring what that might hold for LimeCulture. ‘We think the next few years are going to be extremely interesting for the sexual violence sector. The ongoing focus on sexual violence is not going to go away. We believe the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has the potential to change the face of sexual violence services moving forward. What is clear to us, is that the demand on specialist services is going to keep growing. As more and more people are encouraged to come forward and report their abuse, we need to make sure that as a society we don’t fail them by ensuring that there are a range of high-quality services out there providing excellent support to meet their needs’. When asked what they think this will mean for service provision, Stephanie says ‘Obviously, this will require an increase in investment, which is difficult when budgets are being cut’. However, LimeCulture believe that it will be difficult to ignore the arguments for investment, if – and only if-  specilaist services are able to evidence the benefit of investing in them. ‘I think it’s fair to say that there has been a lot of money spent on the specialist sexual violence sector over the years, with some of it not being invested wisely’, adds Stephanie. ‘However, it’s clear to us that there is a whole lot more investment required if we are to properly support those who have experienced sexual violence’.

LimeCulture clearly believe that increased investment will come eventually,  but so too will come competition from other non-specialists services who want a bite of the cherry. ‘Look at the CSE agenda’, explains Kim ‘when that shot up the political agenda, with money following it, a whole load of new services popped up and with it a load of new ‘experts’, many of whom were clearly not, but merely capitalising on an opportunity for funding. Sadly, Commissioners and Funders are not always wise to this and it meant that many of the existing specialist sexual violence services lost out to those people or services because they were not well placed to compete, even though many would have been much better equipped to provide the support to victims of CSE’. Stephanie explains that in her view ‘many of specialist sexual violence organisations are so under funded, that they spend their time getting on with the job of supporting people, and are not always able to properly look to the future to position themselves effectively for funding. Some services, but not all of course,  need to be supported to do this. Many  services operate in isolation in local areas where they are not informed of changes in national policy or funding pots that become available. Furthermore,they don’t always have the resources to get involved in complicated commissioning processes and as such we have seen an increase in non-specialist agencies moving into this sector’. ‘Look at ISVAs for example, the majority of ISVA Services now do not sit within specialist sexual violence charities, they sit in a much broader variety of organisation such as Victim Support, domestic abuse charities, charities supporting sex workers, NHS organisations, local authorities, and so on’, explains Kim. Though its clear that LimeCulture don’t think the specialist sexual violence should have a special pass to get funding, as ‘we have seen non-specialist service provide some really excellent sexual violence services, but we do think that more needs to be done to  showcase the level of specialism and expertise within this sector, including what they can do and what services they can provide. There is often nobody speaking up for these services, and those that do, are not always positioned effectively to be listened to at the right level. If this is done properly, it would be very hard to ignore the skill and experience that exists within specialist services’.

‘Moving forward, we want to ensure that LimeCulture remains the leading organisation supporting a professional response to sexual violence. We want to continue to provide support to the specialists through our training and development initiatives, but we also want to ensure that awareness of sexual violence continues amongst non-specialist sexual violence organisations. There are a whole range of organisations who have a responsibility to victim care and more should be done by them. We will continue to focus our attention from a strategic perspective on these areas’.

‘We have a fantastic team already in place at LimeCulture, and because of the variety of work that we do, we attract a lot of interest from professionals who are keen to work with us, many of whom are extraordinarily passionate about this area of work and have excellent and impressive CVs. We are expanding as an organisation to meet the requirement of a number of new contracts that we are involved in and we will be bringing in new talent over the next few months’ says Kim.  ‘With them will come new ideas and fresh suggestions and it feels exciting’. LimeCulture is confident as they step into their 6th year, armed with a number of new innovative contracts that will take them in a variety of new directions. ‘There are lots of unknowns but there are so many opportunities in front of us, and for the sector. We can’t wait to get going’.

For more information about LimeCulture, visit our website