A centre that supports victims of rape and sexual abuse has been able to broaden the service it offers thanks to a £5,000 grant from the Commissioner’s Community Fund.

The Watford Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Helpline has expanded its support and counselling services to include men who have suffered from sexual abuse or violence. Up to now the charity has only offered its services to women victims. 

This follows a grant from the fund set up by David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, which has helped pay for specialist training for the charity’s volunteers to enable the support of male victims.

The grant also provided funding to help raise awareness and advertise the new service to men and paid for information and guidance booklets for all survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

Charity’s treasurer Frances LeHane said: "To be able to provide support to men who have been the victims of sexual abuse or sexual violence requires specific training which is different to the training geared towards supporting women.

"This funding has enabled our volunteers to receive that training so we can now provide fully qualified, confidential support for men as well women. Further still, it has enabled us to promote this service so that more people are aware of it and can seek our help."

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, added: "I am delighted that with this grant, the charity has been able to open up its services to both male as well as female victims.

"Rape and sexual abuse can have a devastating impact on victims and it is vital that there are places where they can receive support to help them recover and rebuild their lives."

The charity currently has six fully trained volunteers providing support to victims of rape and sexual abuse across Hertfordshire, either through its helpline service or through face-to-face counselling. The service is offered to victims over the age of 14, who have been the victims of sexual abuse either as a child or an adult.

The centre receives referrals from a variety of organisations but most people seeking support contact the helpline directly themselves.

Currently only the helpline services is open to male victims however the charity is working towards offering face-to-face counselling to men as well.

All calls and counselling sessions are treated in the strictest confidence.

The helpline number is 0845 3011165.