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First ever facility for young sexual abuse victims opens

PICTURED: The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, were special guests at the official opening of The Lighthouse on 5 December (Photo credit: UCLH)

THE UK’s first dedicated service for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse opened on Wednesday (Dec 5) in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, opened The Lighthouse in Camden, a pioneering facility led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) which offers a full range of support services for children and their families from dedicated experts, all under one roof.

Young people who have experienced sexual abuse can now, for the first time, get full access to support from medical, policing and psychological experts all in one place, eliminating the need for victims to go through the trauma of repeating their statement several times to different agencies.

The Lighthouse will provide support for more than 500 young people each year from the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington as part of a two-year pilot. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has managed the delivery of the facility and is already working with partners to ensure funding will continue should the pilot prove a success.

The new unit has been funded through £8 million of joint investment by MOPAC, the Home Office, NHS England and the DfE, with more than £1m additional funds from a partnership between Morgan Stanley and the NSPCC to support the delivery of therapeutic services.

The Lighthouse - based on the Icelandic Barnahus (‘Child House’) and the American Child Advocacy Centre model - promotes a multi-agency approach that puts the health and wellbeing of the young person first. It provides early support after the trauma of abuse, increases the length of time support is provided to children and families, gathers more effective evidence from interviews and offers speedier progress in investigations and court cases.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Children who have experienced sexual abuse have already undergone a horrific ordeal - so it’s essential that we do everything we can to make their path to recovery and justice as simple as possible.

“This ground-breaking centre, The Lighthouse, brings together the NHS, social workers and the police in one place to make sure young people who have experienced sexual abuse get the support they need.”

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins commented: “This Government is committed to doing all it can to tackling child sexual abuse and supporting young people who have to live with the scars of these horrific crimes for the rest of their lives.

“I am proud we can support The Lighthouse, which will ensure victims and their families have access to services in a safe and welcoming environment.”

The service was commissioned by NHS England in partnership with MOPAC. It is led by UCLH in partnership with The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Service.

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