A NORTH-EAST charity which supports survivors of sexual violence is reporting a rise in enquiries into its training courses in the wake of the tragic killing of Sarah Everard.

The death of the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s house in London, provoked a national wave of grief and anger – highlighting the dangers and fears felt by many women on a daily basis.

Staff at Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland say there has been an increase in the number of approaches from businesses and organisations looking to raise knowledge and awareness among employees.

Sue Pearce MBE, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, said: “The heart-breaking death of Sarah Everard has amplified a vital conversation about the everyday experience of women all over the UK.

“The mass outpouring of grief and anger, alongside thousands and thousands of personal accounts from women who have been attacked, assaulted, harassed and afraid, has highlighted the desperate need for more awareness and understanding.

”As well as receiving more referrals from women who need our direct support, we have also observed a definite increase in the number of enquiries from businesses and organisations who want to do more. They are recognising the need for increased awareness around the issues and realities surrounding rape and sexual violence and how important it is that we know how best to support survivors who have experienced it.”

The majority of training enquiries have been directed at the organisation's new online, digital training, which was developed during the pandemic and launched earlier this year. The online courses allow flexibility for those undertaking the workshops because training can be completed remotely and at a time which is convenient.

Built on its 40-year reputation for delivering engaging and informative, in-person training across many of the region's largest employers, the online course options mean organisations can continue to offer employees the opportunity to develop their understanding of the issues surrounding rape and sexual violence despite coronavirus restrictions. Each of the two courses: Adult Rape and Sexual Assault Awareness and Sexual Violence and Older Women Awareness take around two hours to complete and can be worked through at the trainee’s own pace.

Funded by Comic Relief, the online sessions use a powerful combination of real-life case studies alongside thought-provoking information and statistics to deliver the training via an engaging mix of written and audio-visual content.

After completing the course, participants will have a greater understanding of the prevalence, impact and societal context of rape and sexual assault. They will also understand the barriers which may make it difficult for a victim to disclose their experience and seek support – and how those barriers can be overcome.

Sue added: “Increasing general awareness of the issues surrounding rape and sexual violence is vital in order to help more survivors feel they can safely seek the support and help they need.

“These courses are designed to enable organisations of all sizes to promote greater understanding and awareness around this subject. This will help create an atmosphere where employees who have experienced sexual violence will feel safer in disclosing it, and their colleagues will be better prepared to offer the right support.”

For more information, visit www.rctn.org.uk