ALMOST half of the Compass Centre’s yearly caseload is made up of clients aged 13-25 for free and confidential support for survivors affected by sexual harm.
The Compass Centre is seeking to recruit a young survivor’s practitioner to spearhead the project after receiving three years funding for the post from the National Lottery community fund.
In 2020, 80 per cent of users accessing the confidential service disclosed they were first affected by sexual violence below the age of 25, with 17.5 per cent under 13.
Service manager Lisa Ward said: “We do have a proportionately higher amount of young people accessing the service who have slightly different needs, and present differently.
“If you work with young folk early enough, you can hope that it’s going to be less serious sexual crime, and it can be preventative for more serious sexual crime.”
The new project will set up a specialist service specifically aimed at supporting people under 25 of all genders who are survivors of sexual violence. This will involve developing pathways and building partnerships across the community and delivering direct support to young people affected by sexual harm.
The Compass Centre is available for anyone in Shetland who has been affected by sexual violence at any time in their life.
There are currently three forms of support services available at the Compass Centre for survivors of sexual violence. The support service is a practical service aimed at setting and achieving goals, while an ongoing counselling service can support people in processing trauma. Lastly, the advocacy service provides information and support throughout the legal process.
Ward added: “All those services work, and we get good outcomes from people who’ve accessed those services. But there are young person’s specific needs that come up quite often.
“Right now, everyone follows the same pathways and uses the same resources, we’ve developed what we can. For example, for advocacy, a young person reporting may be subject to child protection which results in a different legal pathway. We may not be able to sit in with young people during police statements, because it may need to be a social worker.”
The project will collaborate with young survivors across Shetland to identify their needs throughout the development process, allowing them to help shape the service.
Currently, a group of youth activists under the Bold, Equal and Empowered (BEE) project have helped create resources for young people affected by sexual crime in Shetland, including developing young person specific care packages. Ward said they’ve wanted to “widen that work for a long time”.
While the first year involves developing the service, the second and third will involve delivering the service to young people across Shetland.
Ward said the ideal candidate would be ‘pragmatic and goals-oriented’, with key skills like empathetic listening, and an ability to communicate with young people in a person-centred approach. Confidentiality is also a key part of the role.
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