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Record-breaking demand for Rape Crisis Services

Rape Crisis England & Wales publish a new report, ‘Holding It Together’, today (8 November) that details the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, how Rape Crisis Centres have dealt with a huge increase in need and demand and sets out recommendations to improve support for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Download the full report.

Key Findings

  • Rape Crisis Centres provided a staggering 1,094,467 sessions of specialist support, including advocacy, emotional support and counselling - a 41% increase from 2019-20, in order to support victims and survivors during the pandemic.
  • Rape Crisis Centres innovated, designed new services, and worked in new ways in order to continue providing life-changing and life-saving services.
  • Rape Crisis Centres are not only facing increased demand from new service users, but also providing additional support to those already accessing services as their needs increase.
  • Victims and survivors are experiencing trauma that is exacerbated by lockdown isolation, pandemic-related bereavement, job insecurity and daily pressures.
  • Rape Crisis service users are reporting a multitude of complex mental health issues leading to Centres often propping up mental health services.
  • Despite funding increasing significantly during the pandemic, the majority of resource was provided by the Ministry of Justice and Police and Crime Commissioners, very little funding came from Health Commissioners.
  • Emergency funding ends in March 2022, leaving many Rape Crisis centres facing the possibility of reducing services at a time when demand is increasing exponentially.

Jayne Butler, CEO of Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“Our COVID report demonstrates the resilience and tenacity of our Rape Crisis Centres and workers, who have rapidly increased service provisions to meet user demand. During a challenging time for everyone, they have gone above and beyond to ensure that victims and survivors are able to access special support services. Despite these best efforts, the demand for specialist support is now far exceeding the funding available. There are currently 10,000 victims and survivors on Rape Crisis waiting lists, with this number likely to grow as emergency funding is set to stop at the end of the financial year. 

It is clear from the report, that victims and survivors need access to specialist sexual violence and abuse services more than ever. It is also clear that the funding model for these services is ineffective, inflexible and unsustainable. It’s important to remember that Rape Crisis Centres have been chronically underfunded for decades, so even before the pandemic resources were stretched. Although funding during COVID-19 increased significantly, thanks to support from the Ministry of Justice and local Police Crime Commissioners, we urgently need a cross-government effort to get services on a more sustainable footing. This requires commitment and resourcing from all departments.

Rape Crisis Centres have shown their ability to scale up and increase provision, they now need the funding to enable them to continue providing their highly specialist and effective counselling and advocacy work and to sustainably grow to meet the demands of survivors. We are hopeful the Chancellor’s recent spending review will deliver funding that is flexible, agile and enables Centres to cover core costs.”


The ‘Holding It Together’ report sets out recommendations for funders and commissioners and for the Government.

Recommendations include:

A cross-government long-term funding commitment and strategy for Rape Crisis Centres: this funding approach would mean better access for victims and survivors, and would enable services to plan better for the future and focus on developing and growing service delivery rather than constantly responding to destabilising cycles of redundancies and recruitment.

Flexible funding for Rape Crisis Centre core costs: nearly all funding available to services is for service delivery exclusively, leaving very limited funds for back-office and management costs.