The Rowan, Northern Ireland’s only Sexual Assault Referral Centre has supported 2086 people in its three years of operation.
The centre is managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and provides a one-stop location for victims who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past.
Over the last three years, 37 percent of those attending The Rowan were children and young people and 63 percent were adults.
The team has given support to children under one year of age right up to older people in their late 90s. A comprehensive and co-ordinated package of care is provided to promote recovery and wellbeing with follow-up support and a 24-hour advice and information line.
The majority of victims return to The Rowan for follow-up, including having a holistic sexual health assessment. Clinics are provided by specialists in the areas of Genitourinary Medicine and Paediatric Medicine.
Services are provided for all victims, including men, regardless of age, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation. Support can also be given to service users in making a report to the police if they wish, either at the time of the assault or at a later date.
Karen Douglas, service manager for the Rowan, said: “At The Rowan we understand the devastation sexual violence can have on the lives of individuals and their families. We are pleased that for three years those who have accessed our services have been helped by the care they received. We want to ensure that everyone affected by sexual violence knows The Rowan is here to help. If you were sexually assaulted weeks, months or even years ago, with or without reporting to the police, we can offer support and you can contact our team.
“By working together and keeping victims at the heart of the service, we can ensure they receive the best care possible and whatever support they may require to rebuild their lives.”
Helping to mark the three year anniversary, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and Mairead McCafferty, Chief Executive of NICCY recently visited The Rowan and had an opportunity to see the facilities and hear about the good work there.
“This is the second time I have visited The Rowan, and on each occasion I have been overwhelmed by the work and dedication of the staff,” said Koulla Yiasouma.
“Children and adults come to The Rowan during what is often the worst time in their lives and they are met with care and professionalism. I am so pleased that we are here today to celebrate and recognise the achievements of The Rowan and particularly to thank the staff.”
The Rowan is a specialist regional facility jointly funded by the Department of Health and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
If anyone wants to contact The Rowan they can phone the free helpline number 24 hours a day on 0800 389 4424. Further information on the services provided can be found on The Rowan website www.therowan.net.