SUPPORT for victims of sexual violence and abuse is being stepped up as new figures show a rise in sex crimes being reported to police.

Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC), which keeps its location private, has run a programme to support young women and girls who have experienced sexual violence and abuse since 2016.

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With police in the Thames Valley recording a 15 per cent increase in reports of sexual offences since last year, OSARCC’s SEE Project (Support, Empower, Educate) is now expanding its support for women and girls aged 14 to 18.

The organisation believes it has reached some 3,000 young people through the prevention side of its scheme, which puts on sexual consent workshops in schools and other youth settings, and is now planning to do more.

The project also includes focus groups with young women and girls to provide ‘empowerment work’ for victims, as well being part of a 'Sexual Violence Exploitation Network' alongside other groups supporting victims.

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Director Lisa Ward said: “The SEE project means that we are now better placed than ever to support young women and girls who have experienced sexual violence, whilst also furthering our aims to prevent violence against women and girls by increasing awareness and education of the issues faced by young people in our society."

In Oxford, there were 485 incidents recorded between July 2017 and June 2018 - a one per cent rise on the previous year, when 479 crimes were reported.

There is cause for caution about the sex crime statistics however, since it is thought more victims are coming forward following a series of high profile cases worldwide.

OSARCC, a feminist organisation which will turn 40 next year, provides a range of support services for sexual violence survivors.

Ms Ward added: “In our 40 years of delivering services we have frequently been made aware of the need for increased support and more awareness. This funding will better enable us to meet the needs of our local population."

Students at one Oxfordshire school that received a visit from OSARCC were 'effusive' in their praise of of the project, according to one deputy headteacher.

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William Manning, from Didcot Girls School, said: "The input from the SEE project here has been both sensitively delivered and very impactful for the students.

"The project worked with the Year 9 and Year 10 cohorts over the course of two days here in school and the feedback from both cohorts was effusive and universally positive."

OSARCC is now planning to expand the initiative - funded with £720,000 by the Big Lottery Women and Girls Initiative - by launching a text message support service and new social media platforms.

It is also hoping to recruit two specialist youth counsellors and expand its work with schools in the hope of delivering a consistent message and support on consent and sexual violence, with details of the project sent to every secondary school in the county.

The changes are a result of talking to victims about how best to provide support.

The organisation also works with a network of other groups supporting victims, including a partnership with Donnington Doorstep, SAFE!, The Kingfisher team and others – collectively known as the Sexual Violence Exploitation Network.

OSARCC says its message to young women and girls who have been affected by sexual violence is: “We support you, we won’t judge you, we’ll always believe you, and we’ll help you make your own decisions.”

Celeste Stevens, SEE Project coordinator, added: “The SEE project has already helped to empower young women and girls affected by sexual violence, and to support young people to develop their understanding of consent.

“We know there is so much more that we can do, and we’re excited to be developing new and engaging ways to support young women and raise awareness.”

While the SEE project is provided for girls and women, there are also services that can be accessed in Oxfordshire offering support for men and boys.

- For more information, or to contact the organisation in confidence, visit, email or call 01865 725 311.

OSARCC's listening support line, available on 01865 726 295 or freephone 0800 783 6294, is open Monday 6.30pm - 9pm; Thursday 6.30pm - 9pm and Sunday 6pm - 8.30pm.

For email support, contact

Female survivors can speak to the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999 or; males can call Survivors UK on 020 3598 3898 or visit

Under-19s of any gender can call childline on 0800 1111.