Message to supporters from  Lyn Gooding, Chief Executive:

Dear all,

Until now First Light has been a crisis support and recovery service, and it has long been our ambition to utilise the amazing skills and experience of our team to help prevent future abuse from happening by stepping into the world of education and training, to equip the future workforce with the necessary skills to support clients as well as provide education and training to the wider community, to create a network of active bystanders who can both recognise and safely challenge harmful behaviours.

Now due to the incredible generosity of Ecclesiastical, 2022 marks a new and exciting area of development for First Light, as recently our Grants & Trusts Fundraiser Cath Collier together with our Communications Officer Rebecca Hocking met with Chris Pitt, Head of Responsible Business for Ecclesiastical, who announced that in addition to the £10,000 they had already awarded us, we were one of five charities chosen to receive an additional £40,000 Movement for Good award. This is fantastic news as it will enable us to start delivering on one of our key missions namely to ‘Educate and Prevent through early intervention, training and campaigning’.

If you are a regular follower of our social media pages, you will hopefully have noticed our efforts to increase our profile to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding domestic abuse and sexual violence, and I would to encourage you all to help us spread the word by sharing our messages across your own networks.

In addition to using social media, I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present evidence of our work together with some of the many challenges victims face to the Plymouth Violence Against Women & Girls Commission, whose report detailing their recommendations is due out later this spring.

Following the recent government announcement regarding the removal of all COVID restrictions, we here at First Light have recognised the many benefits of providing both face to face and remote support to clients, and as a result we have decided we will be maintaining this way of working, as it allows those who were previously unable to access our services the opportunity to receive the vital support they need to help them on their road to recovery.

Finally, I cannot finish my message without acknowledging the terrible war taking place in Ukraine, which is the ultimate demonstration of abuse of power being inflicted on an entire nation. While we may be helpless to stop this atrocity, I want to take this opportunity to demonstrate our support to the people of Ukraine and hope a peaceful resolution can be found soon.

Best wishes

Lyn Gooding, Chief Executive.

Service Focus: Devon and Cornwall Independent Sexual Violence Advisory (ISVA) Service

In each issue of our Supporters Newsletter we will focus on one of our key services. Within this issue we take a look at our Devon and Cornwall Independent Sexual Violence Advisory (ISVA) Service.

To hear from Sharon Minty, our ISVA Manager and to find out more about the service and what support they provide click here.

First Light are delighted to announce that on Wednesday 2nd March 2022 our ISVA service obtained their accreditation by Lime Culture.

Many congratulations to all that assisted our team with their accreditation!

What are Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and what do they do?

Male Specific Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)

Martin Nelson is First Light’s Male Specific ISVA and his role is to support all adults over the age of who have reported sexual violence in Devon and Cornwall and have been referred to us.
For more information and to hear from Martin about his role, please click here.

Children and Young Person’s (CYP) Non-Contact Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Project – Cornwall

In partnership with Cornwall’s Local Authority Children Family Services First Light launched our Children and Young Person’s (CYP) Non-Contact (NC) Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Project in Cornwall at the start of January 2022, and the project has now “gone live”.

The aim of the project is to work with children and young people that have come to the Local Authority (LA) after experiencing non-contact sexual abuse. Non-contact sexual abuse is where a child is abused without being touched by the abuser.

The ISVA’s will offer ongoing emotional and practical support, working with the CYP and family to understand the impact and improve their awareness and knowledge of sexual abuse. They will help clients build their confidence, self-care and provide education about healthy relationships free of abuse. The CYP NC ISVAs will provide end to end support to ensure the CYP will have consistency of a worker.

Referrals for this project will come via Children Family Services and MARU direct to the CYP NC ISVAs to allow the LA worker and CYP NC ISVA to prioritise need and work in collaboration to ensure needs of the CYP are met.

First Light have appointed a Team Leader to manage this project and any information or queries can be directed to the Team Leader through email to clare.harding@firstlight.org.uk

Mark’s story*

Mark was referred to First Light following a disclosure of historic rape by two older males when he was a teenager. Now in his thirties, Mark had suppressed these memories for much of his life, until disclosing to the Police earlier this year. First Light appointed Mark an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor to support him during the Police and criminal investigation.

His initial needs and risk assessment highlighted a number of complicating factors. Mark’s disclosure coincided with the breakdown of his marriage, leading to homelessness. As a result, Mark is living in temporary accommodation which is not suitable for his children to visit. Mark also has complex mental health issues including suicide attempts leading to hospital admission. He has also developed a severe stammer exacerbated by recent anxiety and stress. This makes communication with professionals difficult.

Mark’s ISVA continues to support him not only with his sexual violence issue, but is supporting Mark’s wider mental health and housing needs.

*Name’s changed to protect the identity of the individual.

Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week

In February First Light supported Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week in the community, by talking to the media (including ITV & BBC) and on social media.

During the awareness week our Sexual Assault Referral Centre staff visited colleges in Wiltshire, carried out various TV and Radio interviews, featured in articles (Swindon Advertiser) as well as featuring in podcasts with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Big Give – Women and Girls Match Fund

It’s International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and we’re excited to have been successful in a bid to take part in the Big Give’s Women and Girls Matched Fund appeal! This is an amazing opportunity for you to support our work and Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence – up to £10,000 of donations raised will be matched by the Big Give thanks to the DCMS’ Tampon Tax Fund – meaning any donation made between the 8th and 22nd of march will be doubled.

Donations will support victims of sexual violence to stay safe, exercise their rights and recover from their trauma, cutting down our waiting lists for therapy and ensuring the right help is there for people who need it, when they need it.

Donate here: https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/donate/a0569000029imXYAAY

Fundraising

First Light would like to thank The National Benevolent Charity who have given us a grant of £10,000 which will help us to reach more individuals who have been victim of rape or sexual assault across Swindon and Wiltshire.
More information: https://www.firstlight.org.uk/10000-grant-to-support…/

We are delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund have awarded First Light £9,989 to help us reach a wider and more diverse audience.
Please keep an eye out for our new, exciting resources over the next few months.

First Light are delighted to win a £40,000 Movement for Good award from Ecclesiastical Insurance which will will enable us to establish an Educate & Prevent Training venture.

The funding will take First Light’s knowledge, skills and expertise out to sector professionals, further education settings, and into communities across the South West. Over the next two years First Light will work with, educate and train 94 people, who will reach and support over 4,200 individuals and families impacted by domestic abuse and sexual violence.

For more information, please click here: https://www.firstlight.org.uk/first-light-wins-40000…/

Take a look at the moment when Chris Pitt , Head of Responsible Business at Church Matters with Ecclesiastical told our Trust and Grants Fundraiser & Communications Officer that First Light had won an additional £40,000 Movement for Good award. Click here to watch the video.