The role of a voluntary sector organisation in developing and leading prevention work at a strategic and operational level in a unitary authority (an administrative division of local government) is explored in this chapter. Consideration is given to what has worked in establishing and maintaining effective local partnerships and in providing prevention, early intervention and support services for young people aged 11 and upwards.
In a city with a historically high incidence of reported sexual offending, Southampton Rape Crisis (SRC) developed an innovative and award-winning multidimensional service model that recognises the complex and interdependent factors involved in effective prevention of and response to sexual violence. In this chapter, we describe the evolution of these services in response to emerging need within a strong local culture of multiagency partnerships. In particular, we introduce the work of the ‘Star Project’ (Star), our outreach initiative that has reached more than 70,000 young people since its inception in 2000, delivering sessions to all of the city's secondary and some of its primary schools and gaining local, national and international recognition for best practice in sex and relationships education. Star was named as one of only ten examples of international best practice in a 2013 European Parliament Report ‘Overview of the worldwide best practices for rape prevention and assisting women victims of rape’. ‘Star’ finds creative and innovative ways to engage young men and young women in thinking together about issues such as safety, sexual violence, coercion, consent, internet risk and healthy relationships as well as highlighting the value and availability of specialist support.
Young people's voices – starting where they are
Having initially offered a crisis helpline and limited face to face support, in the late 1990s SRC became increasingly conscious that the few young people who were contacting the organisation for help did so with trepidation, having received, from schools or elsewhere little or no information about either protecting themselves from sexual harm or where to get help if they had experienced it. The stories we heard from our clients led us to question why education in this area was predominantly limited to ‘stranger danger’ messages.