Demand for OSARCC Services Continues to Grow

Demand for OSARCC Services Continues to Grow

As Covid cases continue to rise, people across Oxfordshire are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety. For many survivors of sexual violence, the effects are magnified.

Lockdown and isolation put a strain on mental health and wearing or seeing masks can trigger post-trauma symptoms.

OSARCC has seen a 23% increase in referrals compared to this time last year. People who have experienced sexual assault recently often feel concerned about reporting it if it happened outside of lockdown rules, and they’re turning to us for support. But we’re also seeing a rise in the number of historic cases of sexual violence.

CEO Lisa Ward was interview by Oxford’s Jack FM recently, where she talked about this increase and the benefits and challenges of technology. Listen here.

Meeting the Challenge

OSARCC has adapted to meet this rising demand, obtaining funding to pilot two new services.

Until 31 March 2021, new service users can 1:1 or group psychoeducation, where they can learn about the effects of trauma on mind and body and learn coping mechanisms while they wait for therapy.

We’re also trialling a callback service, where new service users can opt to receive regular brief calls from a trained Listening Service volunteer once a week, to check in and provide support and signposting.

Technology Ups and Downs

The new services being piloted are a direct result of the way OSARCC has adapted to remote working, with technology playing a huge role.

And there’s a lot to be said for the benefits. For service users who are unable to travel to our centre in Oxford, technology has offered the opportunity to join our Drop-in Group or to more easily attend therapy. Some women have told us that they feel more confident accessing services online because they can do it from the comfort of home.

But it also brings challenges. We know that not all women can access online spaces easily, for example through lack of broadband or equipment. And finding private space in a home you share with others can be difficult. And although survivors are living with trauma day to day, choosing to talk or hear about it in their own space can make it tricky to ‘switch off’ afterward.

Our staff are working hard to find ways to build on the benefits and overcome the challenges of remote working.

“Over the past 9 months I have been incredibly proud of how OSARCC has adapted and changed in order to ensure that those who need our services are able to access them,” says CEO Lisa Ward. “I am so humbled by the passion and commitment of our staff and volunteer team, who have worked tirelessly to ensure survivors of sexual violence get the best possible support.”

She adds, though, that we can’t rest on our laurels.

“Demand for our services always outstrips our funding and capacity to respond, and we rely on the generosity of our supporters. We’re asking the Oxfordshire community to consider giving us a gift this holiday season, to help us sustain our vital work.”

There are lots of ways to support OSARCC.

The easiest way is to donate through Just Giving:

If you’d like to do something more active, consider joining our Festive 5K. Throughout December, walk, bike, run, skate — or do whatever activity you like — for a total of 5 kilometres. Get your friends and family to sponsor you and as well as our thanks, you will be sent a special festive OSARCC medal. Sign up here, or share it on Facebook or Instagram.

If sofa support is more your thing, you can contribute to OSARCC every time you buy from Amazon. Sign up for a free account at and use when you shop.’


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