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ISVA Service

As a victim of sexual violence you may experience a wide range of emotions and reactions – some of these maybe very extreme such as fear, anger, shame and humiliation; other feelings of guilt, self-blame, numbness and helplessness are no less damaging. You do not have to cope with this alone, Axis’ Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) team are trained to help and support you in any decisions you need to make.

They are there to ensure your safety and the safety of others who may be at risk, they can give you advice on sexual health and pregnancy, reporting to the police if you wish, gathering evidence and forensics and can also help you through the criminal justice process. ISVAs are support workers and advocates who are entirely focussed on you and enable you to access those services you may need in the aftermath of the trauma you have experienced.

Our ISVA team will treat everything in the strictest confidence and be guided by your wishes. The support provided will vary dependent on your needs and particular circumstances. What happened next is entirely your decision.

We will:-

  • Provide free and impartial information, advice and support.
  • Conduct a comprehensive needs and risk assessment with you
  • Develop an individual support plan tailored to meet your needs
  • Help you access other support services
  • Advocate your needs and wishes to other agencies if you wish.
  • Give you advice and guidance on a range of issues. Explain our safeguarding policies and obligations in case you, someone else or a child is at serious risk of harm.
  • Hold regular telephone calls, and face to face meetings, as agreed with you.

Our ISVA’s provide practical support in areas such as:-

  • Harm from others
  • Health and medical
  • Mental health and psychological wellbeing
  • Coping mechanisms, social and cultural support
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Safeguarding
  • Employment and education
  • Finance
  • Accommodation and housing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I self-refer in to your service?

Yes, absolutely. All you need to do is give us a call.

If you live in Telford & Wrekin: 01952 586790

If you live in the rest of Shropshire: 01743 243007

If you live outside the area but the offence happened in the area, please call the number for the area in which the incident happened.

If you are finding it difficult to pick up the phone, you could email us at:

isva@axiscounselling.org.uk  and we could give you a call (if you provide your phone number)

I am under 18; can I self-refer in to the service?

Yes, if you are 16 or 17 you can self-refer without the consent of your parents. If you are 13-15 we would encourage you to discuss a referral with your parents but if you prefer not to, this will not necessarily stop us from supporting you. If you are under 13, we would need consent from your parents for you to access our service.

Do I have to have a case going through a police investigation or the courts to access your service?

No, we provide support to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse. You do not have to be accessing the criminal justice system to get our support.

I am thinking of making a report to the police. Can I speak to you first to find out my options?

Yes, absolutely. Our ISVA’s are full trained and experienced in providing impartial and independent information about your options and rights. They can answer any questions you may have. You can then make an informed decision about what the right thing to do, for you is. If you decide to report, your ISVA can support and guide you through the process.

How quickly will I hear from you once I have been referred to your service?

Once we receive a referral for you, we will attempt to make contact with you within 3 working days. We will only use contact methods that have been provided by the referrer that they have told us are safe. This means that sometimes we have to go back to the referrer to check whether a phone number or address is safe before we can try to contact you. This means that there might be a delay in us trying to contact you.

We will try to contact you by your preferred method of contact if the referrer has told us what that is.

We will generally try to contact you 4 times in 2 weeks (or leave you 2 voicemail messages if it is safe to do so) and then send you a letter with our information (if it is safe to do so) asking you to contact us if you would like our support or to find out more. We may also email you and/ or text you. If we do not hear from you within a couple of weeks of the letter, we will close your file, but that does not mean that you have missed the chance of having our support. We have an open door policy which means that you can access our support at any time. So if it is not the right time for you when we contact you, you can always come back to us at a later date for support.

Can I contact you, if I have not heard from you after I have been referred to you?

Yes, absolutely. If you think that a referral has been sent to us, but have not heard anything from us within a few days, you can give us a call. It might be that we are waiting for the referrer to confirm that your contact details are safe to use.

If you live in Telford & Wrekin: 01952 586790

If you live in the rest of Shropshire: 01743 243007

If you live outside the area but the incident happened in the area, please call the number for the area in which the incident happened.

Is an ISVA the same as a counsellor?

No, an ISVA is not a counsellor, and provides very different support. A counsellor will provide therapy whereas an ISVA will support you through the criminal justice process (if you decide to pursue this route) and will provide you with practical support.

Will I have to tell my ISVA what happened to me?

No, you won’t discuss what happened with your ISVA. Your ISVA will work with you to identify the impact that the abuse has had on your life and to help you put together a support plan to try to help get your life back on track.

What will happen at the Initial Assessment?

Your ISVA will introduce themselves and explain about the support they can offer. They will do some paperwork with you and find out about what you want from the service. They will start to work with you to identify what areas of your life have been affected and start to put a support plan together with you of how they can help. They will also answer any questions you have, and agree with you how often you would like contact, what method(s) of contact suit you best etc.

Do I sign a contract?

No, you are not tied in to support; you can leave at any time. We just ask that you let us know that you no longer require our support. You do not need to give us a reason.

Will I meet my ISVA again face to face after the initial assessment?

That depends very much on your wishes and circumstances. It is sometimes beneficial to meet a second time to complete the assessment if there has been insufficient time to complete it on the first occasion.

The mthod by which you communicate with your ISVA is something that you agree with your ISVA and is based on your wishes. If you have a police investigation that goes to court, you are likely to see your ISVA again face to face for things like pre-trial visits, and they can support you at the trial if you wish them to.

For children and Young People, support tends to be face to face (but again, this depends on the wishes of the individual).

How long will my support last?

It varies from person to person. Support will remain available to you for as long as there is an identified need open on your support plan. If you are accessing the criminal justice system, we will support you all the way through and afterwards.

Once we have met all of your needs, or have referred or signposted you on to specialist organisations who can better deal with those needs, then we will look to bring your support to a close. For some people this can be months, for other people it can be years.

If you wish to withdraw from support at any point, you can. We just ask that you let us know. You do not have to give a reason.

We do have an open door policy so if you needed our support again in the future, you can just contact us, and we can re-open your file.

Can I provide feedback about the support I receive?

Yes, we ask for feedback at 3 points during service. This is to help us improve our service. They are:

  • Following initial assessment
  • Mid way through support (usually once the bulk of your initial support need have been met)
  • At the end of service

We are also in the process of starting up a client feedback group. The focus of this group will be to look at operational policies and procedures and provide input in to updating them. If you are interested in taking part in this, please ask your ISVA for more details.

Are the ISVA’s specially trained?

Yes, our ISVA’s are all either trained and accredited Independent Sexual Violence Advisors; or hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Advocacy for victims of sexual violence.

The ISVA Development Programme is an accredited professional course which is accredited by the awarding body NCFE.

Both courses have been developed to meet the Skills for Justice National Occupational Standards (NOS) relevant for ISVA’s.

All newly recruited ISVA’s commence their training within 6 months of recruitment, and are fully supported and supervised.

A number of our ISVA’s have also completed their Advanced ISVA training.

Do the ISVA’s get support?

Yes, all of our ISVA’s are supported by receiving a minimum of 1 hour per month external clinical supervision; and 2 hours line management supervision per month for experienced staff or 3 hours per month for new recruits, staff in training and newly accredited ISVA’s.

We have offices in Shrewsbury and Telford where you will be in a safe and secure environment and you can take that first step.

Also In This Section

Funding and Supporters

Axis is Funded by a number of different organisations and private donations
 

Membership and Quality

Axis is membership of, or accredited by, a number of organisations
 

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