Derbyshire sex abuse and incest charity hoping to reach out to more survivors with launch of free helpline

SAIL helpline opening, Dena Trossell and Ruth Gartland in the helpline room
SAIL helpline opening, Dena Trossell and Ruth Gartland in the helpline room

A ‘vital’ Derbyshire charity that has been supporting victims of sexual and incestual abuse for more than 25 years is hoping to reach out to more survivors with the launch of a free helpline.

The SAIL Derbyshire helpline, manned by qualified volunteer counsellors at the charity’s premises on Soresby Street, Chesterfield, is now live.

It is hoped the new service will provide an additional gateway for sex abuse victims who want to remain anonymous or are not ready to pursue face-to-face

therapy.

Dena Trossell, strategic head of services, said: “It’s great to know we are only a call away, particularly for survivors who find themselves in a time of great desperation or crisis.

“Sometimes, survivors see how cases are handled in the legal system and can be deterred from reporting what’s happened to them.

“We want people to know you don’t have to make a report to speak to someone at SAIL.

“Just talking to someone can have a positive effect and the helpline is a way we can offer that.”

Sadly, the helpline is still needed now more than ever.

Staff say there has been a increase in sex abuse and incest victims coming forward, with hundreds approaching the charity each year.

Of these cases, the charity estimates around 90 per cent of people report feeling sucidal.

Around 85 per cent of the cases involve the victim being sexually abused by a relative.

Ruth Gartland, SAIL project manager and counselling co-ordinator, said: “Sex abuse can impact on every aspect of a person’s life- they might have feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem and depression.

“Sometimes, they do not realise the abuse they have suffered and the problems they are now experiencing are conected.

“They could turn to self-medication and self-harm and have suicidal thoughts.

“Along with the helpline, we offer a broad range of services that can help survivors learn to rebuild confidence and develop healthy coping strategies.

“Someone who rings the helpline might decide they want to access these services, such as individual counselling with an experienced practitioner- which we can offer for up to six months, more if needed.”

SAIL was set up from a sitting room by four Chesterfield women in 1992, and celebrated its 25th birthday last year.

Like other voluntary organisations, SAIL could run into difficulties with funding after cash-strapped NHS Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups announced plans to slash £1.1m in grants to charities.

But thankfully SAIL remains afloat after scooping lottery bid funding, a portion of which allowed them to launch the new helpline.

SAIL are passionate about working with other charities in the Chesterfield community such as Derbyshire LGBT, as well as offering placements to University students.

You can call the helpline on 0800 0282678 (it’s open from 10am-2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays).

Drop-in sessions are also available on those days at the same time.

Whatever you confide in SAIL will be treated privately and confidentially, except in rare and exceptional circumstances such as when harm to a child is revealed or suspected, or staff have concerns for your safety.

For more information call 01246 559889 or email info@sailderbyshire.org.uk.

Self-referral and agency referral forms as well as information leaflets are available for download on the website: www.sailderbyshire.org.uk