THE chief officer of a Worcester-based rape and sexual abuse support centre says she is "amazed" at how much she has seen the service grow.
Jocelyn Anderson is celebrating ten years of being in the role at the West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre this month.
The centre was set up in 1986, but over a decade Ms Anderson and her staff and volunteers have helped 7,945 people who were referred to them.
Over the years, Ms Anderson has seen the centre move from an unsuitable premises to one they have been able to make service users feel comfortable in, and they can now not only help women who have been the victims of sexual violence, but also men and children.
"So many things have changed but what has stayed the same and what continues to shock me is the horrific things people do to eachother," she said.
"But I have been so lucky to work with these women — service users and staff — who are some of the strongest most incredible people I know."
Throughout her years in charge, Ms Anderson has seen the staff base grow from two people to a team of 17 and she has set up an additional base in Herefordshire as well as a team of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) who work with victims from the moment they reach out to the service.
They provide emotional and practical support, including supporting people through reporting incidents to the police and throughout the legal process.
"For such a small organisation with no sustainable funding, the amount we provide and the amount of people we help is absolutely phenomenal. When I started, we thought helping four people a week was a lot — last week the ISVAs alone helped 20 people," Ms Anderson said.
"But there is still so much we need to do and we always need funding. We must keep educating people. So many still think sexual violence and domestic abuse are the same thing. They cross-over of course but they are different — last year, 79 per cent of our clients had never been involved in domestic abuse."
To volunteer or provide funding, call 01905 611655. To donate £1 a month to the centre, visit www.wmrsasc.org.uk/?page_id=458.
Call the helpline on 01905 724514 or for more information visit www.wmrsasc.org.uk.