A recent feature on STARS on BBC Spotlight about the work we do and the support we have continued to offer during COVID-19. 

Back in March, we had to quickly change the way we worked, this meant suspending all face to face counselling and support work and working remotely whilst continuing to fully support clients but doing so via the phone and online video platforms. Some clients were in the middle of therapy, some were on a waiting list awaiting an allocation of a counsellor, some had just been referred and had not been assessed, some had cases with the police, some were awaiting to hear if the CPS would take any further action, some had court cases pending and some had yet to reach out for support.

Straight away we made changes, we increased the hours our Telephone Support Line was available, increasing from 10 hours to 26 hours a week. We also increased their Live Chat service, a free online service available through their website, from 10 hours a week to being available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Since these changes in March the charity has seen an increase of 155% of calls to its Support Line compared to the same three month period last year and more people than ever using Live Chat.

We are expecting a surge of referrals to our Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service and Counselling Service as lockdown is completely lifted and we are currently ensuring they will be able to manage and cope with the increased demand on the services. We are remotely training a new cohort of Support Line Listeners and a new cohort of Counsellors and they have recently trained an online assessment team.

Helen Stevens, Service Manager at STARS Dorset, said;

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 the team at STARS Dorset has had to be so flexible, we have extended the hours of our Listening Support Line Service and our Live Chat capabilities and ensured our Counsellor and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors have been able to continue to support our clients. We are anticipating a surge in referrals over the forthcoming months, last year we supported over 1800 people in Dorset and we want to ensure we are able to maintain this level of support and more once lockdown is fully lifted.”

If you would like to pledge support for the charity and all the work they are doing and have been doing during these unprecedented times please click here: https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/sexual-trauma-and-recovery-services-going-mobile . This is our first ever Crowdfunding page and any pledge is hugely appreciated and will help us ensure that we are able to support those who need it across Dorset.