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Our Herstory

In 1994 a small group of local women came together through their concern at the lack of specialist, women centered, women only services for survivors of rape, incest and sexual abuse.

By 1996 they had established the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (Cornwall) as a registered Charity and begun to provide a helpline one evening a week and an outreach service both run by well trained volunteers.

In 1998 we received our first funding and employed a full time Co-ordinator who continued to develop WRSAC and make contact with other agencies.

In 1999 WRSAC was approached by Devon and Cornwall Probation Service to deliver Women’s Support Services alongside the Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme. This was WRSAC’s first step into domestic abuse support service delivery. This meant that when the Government launched the ‘Living Without Fear’ initiatives in 1999 WRSAC was able to lead on a multi-agency project placing Domestic Violence Support Workers in Police Domestic Violence Units. This project has now developed into the ‘Cornwall Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service’ employing 9 full time workers.

In 2002 WRSAC received a Development Grant from the Big Lottery which enabled us to expand our services further and to seek new premises. In 2004 we moved into our current offices in Bodmin, a central base for covering the county. 

In 2005 WRSAC received the Government’s Gold Star Award for Good Practice and was funded to roll out this good practice particularly in the area of recruiting, training and supporting volunteers. We also received the Criminal Justice Board’s Award for ‘Outstanding Services to Victims and Witnesses’.

In 2008 WRSAC delivered a sexual violence conference called ‘Breaking the Silence; Healing the Wounds’ at the Eden Project which addressed the Government’s ‘Sexual Violence and Abuse Action Plan’ and was the catalyst for the formation of the ‘Cornwall Sexual Violence Forum’. WRSAC’s staff, volunteers and service users were involved in the production of two short films which were shown at the conference.

In 2008 WRSAC returned to the Eden Project to launch a book produced by our Young Women’s Support Network entitled ‘They Underestimated Us’. The book was a culmination of 18 months work undertaken by the young women who attended a series of 20 workshops run by artists including writers, performers, photographers, film makers and visual artists.

In 2009 WRSAC received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and in 2010 was visited by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall who commended us on the ‘amazing, difficult and harrowing work’ we do.

In 2010 after a rigorous 12 month Quality Assurance process WRSAC has become a CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse) ‘Leading Light’ and recognized as a Centre of Excellence for our work with Domestic Violence. We are one of only seven in the United Kingdom.

In 2012 we moved into additional office space, which will enable WRSAC room for future development.

WRSAC were recipients of the GSK IMPACT Award in 2012. The IMPACT Awards have been running since 1997 and are designed to recognise and reward charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health. The awards are funded by GlaxoSmithKline and managed in partnership with The King’s Fund.

WRSAC are currently active members of the Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centre Management Board, the Cornwall Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Strategic Group, the Cornwall PCT’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Strategic Group, the South West Crown Prosecution Service’s Community Involvement Group, the Council for Racial Equality Cornwall.

WRSAC has been an active member of Rape Crisis England and Wales for many years and we adhere to Rape Crisis National Service Standards.

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Our Chief Executive is on the Board of Trustees of Rape Crisis England & Wales and End Violence Against Women Board of Trustees.

WRSAC has taken part in numerous local, regional and national media items and recently featured in a front page article in the national Guardian.