Last week LimeCulture hosted the first Network for ISVAs focusing on supporting those with learning disabilities. The Network meeting was attended by 40 ISVAs from 32 different ISVA services across the country and provided the opportunity for ISVAs to come together to share ideas, discuss challenges and identify solutions to better support people with learning disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and abuse.
The Network meeting was chaired by LimeCulture’s National ISVA Coordinator, Holli Waterson. Holli is responsible for the National ISVA Coordinator (NISVAC) Service, which was commissioned by Operation Hydrant as part of a national initiative to provide victims/survivors of sexual abuse from specific hard-to-reach, or seldom heard, groups with a pathway into support from an ISVA service and/or access to the criminal justice system, in recognition of the additional barriers they face.
The NISVAC service was established in 2020 and has recently expanded to also support victims/survivors with learning disabilities. Victim/survivors from this group are disproportionately affected by sexual violence, yet offenders are less likely to be brought to justice and victims/survivors are less likely to access support.
LimeCulture has been working with several national disability organisations to identify barriers in referring clients with learning difficulties or disabilities who may have experienced sexual assault or abuse, and to create pathways within their services to specialist local and national support. Raising awareness of the existence of local ISVA Services among disability organisations and seeking to strengthen their internal processes to enable appropriate referrals has been key to Holli’s recent work.
The first meeting of the Network took place on Thursday 14 October. It proved to be a great space for ISVAs across the country to come together and support one another to develop their practice in working with clients with learning disabilities. LimeCulture also arranged for Association for Real Change to attend the Network to talk to the ISVAs attending about their recent UsToo Project. ARC is a leading umbrella body representing service providers in the learning disability sector – whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for people who have a learning disability by supporting anyone who is involved in the planning or delivery of support and services.
Holli Waterson, National ISVA Coordinator said:
“I’m delighted by the range of ISVA services who joined the first Network Meeting. The Network provides a unique opportunity for ISVA services to come together and share experiences and challenges with our professional peers to help ensure our specialist sexual violence services are able to meet the needs of clients with learning disabilities”
An ISVA Service Manager also said:
“the sharing of knowledge and practice, and the opportunity for discussion and peer support is invaluable when it comes to improving service delivery to all survivors, but particularly those groups where additional barriers exist”.
LimeCulture is in the process of developing specific training for ISVAs working with victims/survivors with learning disabilities. This will be available in the coming months.
LimeCulture would like to thank all the ISVAs who attended the first Network meeting. We are keen to welcome every ISVA service to join the Network. For more information about the Network, please contact Holli Holli.Waterson@LimeCulture.co.uk
The NISVAC Service was commissioned by Operation Hydrant to support victims/survivors of sexual abuse from specific hard-to-reach, or seldom heard, groups with a pathway into support from an ISVA service and/or access to the criminal justice system, in recognition of the additional barriers they face.
The National ISVA Advice Line is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – 0800 246 5260 or by email NISVAC@limeculture.co.uk