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Lord Mayor of Manchester joins St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre to mark 30 years of service

A year long programme of activities marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was unveiled at a launch event last night.

Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Paul Murphy OBE, will welcome guests to the evening reception that will provide St Mary's SARC with an opportunity to reflect on the purpose and foundation of the SARC service, review its service today and share its vision for the future.

SARC 3010 Launch event

Clinical Director of St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Dr Catherine White, said: "We are not only marking 30 years since our entire service started but we are also marking 10 years since the establishment of our child service.

"Over the past 30 years, St Mary's SARC has travelled a significant journey in developing our services for people reporting rape or sexual assault.  Today, we see more than 1600 people each year and just under half of those are children and our service is the busiest of its kind in the UK.

"St Mary's SARC has always, and continues to, drive up standards in the quality of care provided to its clients.  It has worked with national policy and decision makers to ensure that the voice of clients are heard and it has sought to raise standards across the UK and internationally through comprehensive training and awareness programmes, research, contribution to national steering groups and by building relationships with key influencers."

The anniversary year dubbed '30:10' will provide St Mary's SARC with the opportunity to host a year-long programme of events that will aim to:

  • Celebrate St Mary's SARC achievements and mark the progress of services provided to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted
  • Create greater awareness of St Mary's SARC and its services
  • Thank staff both past and present for their achievements and contribution

Invited speakers at the launch event include documentary film maker, Roger Graef, of Films of Record who will show clips and speak about the production of his BAFTA award winning series 'Police' which was first broadcast on the BBC in the early 1980s.  A three part series, the second film, 'A complaint of rape' raised questions in the Houses of Parliament on the investigation techniques used by the Police officers filmed.   In addition, Blue Ryan and Sara Hardy, documentary producers from Goldstar Productions will show clips and talk about their BAFTA nominated documentary about the work of the St Mary's Centre which was first broadcast on BBC1 in 2013.

The evening will launch a number of events planned for the year which will include a partnership with The Whitworth, led by emerging artist Helen Newman who is part of the Whitworth Young Contemporaries, a young peoples' group for those aged 15-25.  As part of this project, St Mary's SARC support clients will be invited to contribute an individual piece of art that will contribute to one major piece of art that will be installed at the Centre upon completion in the summer of 2016.

Manchester University Chancellor and well-known Manchester Poet, Lemn Sissay will be hosting a masterclass for St Mary's SARC clients in June 2016 that will encourage them to explore how poetry can help them find ways of coping with their experience.  In addition, the St Mary's SARC Annual Conference on the subject of Sexual Assault and Children will take place on April 21st and 22nd at the Midland Hotel and a formal anniversary dinner will take place in November.

Dr Catherine White continued: "We hope to build on and develop our services further in the future so that people who have been raped or sexually assaulted can receive the highest standards and quality of care."


Notes to Editors

St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre was the first Sexual Assault Referral Centre to open in the UK.  It provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic, medical, counselling and aftercare service to men, women and children living in Greater Manchester or Cheshire  who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether this has happened recently or in the past.