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17 December 2014, 05:36 | Updated: 17 December 2014, 05:40
Victims and survivors of sexual exploitation in Rotherham are being urged to seek support following the launch of a new confidential helpline.
The 24-hour support service is a single point of contact for people who have suffered abuse in the past, or those who may be being exploited now.
The Rotherham sexual exploitation helpline is being run by national charity, the NSPCC, on behalf of Rotherham Borough Council, and provides support to people of all ages.
The confidential helpline and email address will be staffed 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week. It can be accessed as below:
It is staffed by fully-trained practitioners who will be the first point of contact for people seeking further help. The NSPCC will listen to their experiences and concerns, and where appropriate, working with the individual, will make contact with other agencies to ensure they receive the best ongoing support.
Cllr Paul Lakin, Council Leader, said:
'It takes an incredible amount of courage for someone who has suffered abuse to take that first step and seek help.
"In talking to groups and organisations we know how important it is that when people feel the time is right for them to ask for support, it is crucial that we make sure help is as easy to find as possible.
"This confidential helpline provides a single point of contact for people of all ages who want to speak to someone about their experiences, and seek further help and support."
John Cameron, the NSPCC's Head of Child Protection Operations, added:
'It's really important that people who have been sexually abused or exploited know that there is support out there for them.
"Talking about abuse is a very brave thing to do and takes an enormous amount of courage. We know it can take some victims years, even decades, to come forward as they come to terms with what has happened to them.
"Our helpline practitioners provide a safe place for anyone who wants to talk about their own concerns or those they may have for someone else. Their views will be taken seriously and we will do whatever we can to provide them with the independent information, advice and action they need. You can contact us by calling 0800 7319 256 or emailingrotherhamcsesupport@NSPCC.org.ukand you don't have to tell us who you are."
The helpline forms part of the council's strategic response to provide more support for victims and survivors of sexual exploitation.
This includes an immediate funding package of £120,000 to help local charities and voluntary organisations support more people, while plans for a permanent multi-agency support service are being drawn up.
It also comes as the council and partners have created a community pledge - 'Rotherham Standing Together against child sexual exploitation' - as well the launch of a South Yorkshire-wide awareness-raising campaign, 'Spot the Signs.'
Cllr Lakin added:
'Rotherham has shown its determination to stand together against this horrific crime and we will do all we can as a community to make sure our town is safer and stonger for the future."