For the first of our ‘role profiles’, to highlight the breadth of our work across the 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, we sat down with Emma, our Children and Young Person’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor to find out more about this vital role and what it entails.
Tell us about your role:
Emma is the Children and Young People’s ISVA for mid-Cornwall. Emma is also a senior practitioner, which means alongside her role she also helps to support other ISVAs and answer any of their questions.
The CYP ISVA role exists to support anybody Under the age of 18 through the criminal justice process, all the way through from ‘report to court’, as well as supporting young people aged 16-18 to decide whether to report to the police in the first instance.
The main role of the ISVA is to give the young person a voice and to offer a single point of contact for young people at this difficult time. That can mean helping keep young people engaged with the process, explaining complex language in an accessible way, demystifying the justice system, or supporting them with other areas such as issues at school or relationships and family life. They’ll offer reassurance and support and can liaise with other organisations and make referrals, too. Young people will build a relationship with the same ISVA for the entire length of the ‘support to court’ process.
CYP ISVAs work with people from the ages of 0-18, so a lot of the role is also offering support and reassurance to parents.
Why do you think your role is important?
Children who’ve been affected by trauma can sometimes be missed out of the process, even though they are the person who has experienced the trauma. It’s not uncommon for young people not to be updated by parents, for many reasons, sometimes in an effort to protect them – however, this doesn’t always give young people the agency they need or the opportunity to ask questions. This is particularly important for cases involving the police, as by standard practice the police will liaise with parents of a minor rather than the young person themselves.
For a young person, then, an ISVA can be the person they ask any questions to, no matter what about – and who will explain what’s going on to them. This also gives them a voice if they want to advocate for themselves, and to understand their rights. It’s important too for them to have an empathetic person involved in the process who doesn’t represent An Institution.
Why First Light? Emma has been with FL for 6 years. It’s a subject she’s always been passionate about, having previously worked as a crisis worker for a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Becoming an ISVA was a job progression she really wanted to make. It might be a tough role, but it’s so rewarding. Emma is passionate about improving the lives of young people who’ve had a rough time, and she loves the work and the diversity of the role. It’s truly a job where no day is the same.
To make a referral, visit: https://www.firstlight.org.uk/isva-referral/
Or call 03458 12 12 12