Dorset

Bournemouth to get rape support centre after grant

A new rape support centre will open in Bournemouth after securing a slice of government funding.

The project, which will be run by charity Dorset Rape Crisis, is one of four centres across England to benefit from the £600,000 grant.

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt made the announcement earlier which will enable the charity to develop a range of services including a helpline.

Jess Weir, centre manager, said "getting this funding is just amazing".

The funding will also help to create an independent sexual violence adviser and counselling.

'Centres under threat'

Dorset has a rate of reported sexual offences per 1000 population of 0.35, which is above the national average of 0.29 cases.

"On top of that a lot of women and men do no report rape at all," said Mrs Weir.

"It is a common misconception that Dorset and Bournemouth in particular, are just sleepy retirement destinations.

"In reality, we have a large number of young students at the university and foreign language students. The centre of Bournemouth provides for their evening entertainment in what is called a vibrant night time economy; namely pubs and clubs."

It is the first time the charity - which was set up 20 years ago - has received statutory funding and the centre is expected to open later in the year.

The announcement came as the national domestic violence charity Women's Aid said more than half of the services that helped victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence nationwide could face closure because of government cuts.

A survey for the charity found 60% of refuge services and 72% of outreach services had no funding agreed from next month.

The government said funding of specialist services was a matter for local councils and it had urged authorities not to cut such services.

Mr Blunt, from the Ministry of Justice, added: "By providing long-term funding for a new rape support centre in Dorset the government is demonstrating its commitment to ensure that every victim receives the specialist support they need to rebuild their lives."

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