Rape Crisis Centre needs volunteers

Isobel Boyson 30 September 2007

Cambridge students are calling for help to man the phones so they can keep a crucial helpline for rape victims afloat.

Dwindling funds forced Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre to close last month – but students from the University launched a campaign to make sure victims of sexual assault have somewhere to turn. A Facebook group, ‘Save Cambridge Rape Crisis’, attracted more than 550 members, and 50 volunteers have now stepped forward to keep the service alive.

CUSU’s women’s officer Elly Shepherd, who is leading the campaign, is appealing for more volunteers to get in touch.

The Mill Lane centre – which offered counselling over the phone – was set up in 1981, but failure to secure sufficient funding meant the service struggled to survive. Shepherd has now secured the help of Cambridge city councillors, professional psychotherapists and volunteers from the original service to fund and train a new student-led team.

Shepherd said: “By mid-November, we’re hoping to have six hours of service – so the more volunteers, the better. This is something to build on, not the final product. Eventually, perhaps within five years, it would be great to have face-to-face counselling on offer.

“Cambridge is a claustrophobic place, and it can be difficult to find someone to talk to. Some tutors would deal with a problem such as rape sensitively, but many wouldn’t. So it’s important to act on this, not let the service go.” There will be a launch event for the centre on November 19th.

Isobel Boyson