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Unit for rape victims is first with hospital link

A first-of-its-kind support centre for sexual assault victims opens its doors today.

Hope House Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), in Gloucester, is the only centre in the country to be connected to a hospital and its sexual health services.

This allows victims of rape and sexual assault can access medical care, counselling, advice and support as well as police services all under one roof.

The SARC, part of Hope House at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, opens its doors this morning.

A person who has experienced sexual assault or rape can visit Hope House SARC or can make contact by telephone.

The victim of the assault can also be referred - but only with their consent - by organisations such as the police, voluntary and victim support groups, schools, colleges, hospital A&E departments and GP surgeries.

Gloucestershire Police Chief Constable Dr Timothy Brain said: "We already know victims of sexual assault benefit from the way in which they are supported through the traumatic events following such an assault.

"Hope House SARC is a place which will dramatically improve the way victims of rape and sexual assault are supported both by the police and health services.

"The facilities in Hope House are second to none, and I am very pleased the whole ambience is calm, comforting and reassuring for those affected by these appalling crimes.."

Sandie Johnson, Hope House SARC Manager, said, "As soon as you walk through the door we are thinking about how to make such a traumatic situation more comfortable.

"People can come to us straight off the street or via the police or their doctor. There is also information on how to contact us on our new website".

Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have worked together with Gloucestershire Constabulary and the Gloucestershire Police Authority on the new facilities over the past three years.