Support line freephone: 0808 2840484   Enquiries:


Rape Crisis Covid Report ‘Holding it Together’

A letter of thanks from the Chair of CSASS

Dear survivors, volunteers, staff, and supporters of CSASS,

I won’t take much of your time, but I wanted to share a few things with you.

As we all know, only too well, it has been the strangest of times, but things have certainly not stood still at CSASS. We have seen an increase in the demand for our support, and I, and my fellow Trustees, are so very proud of the way volunteers and staff have redoubled their efforts in trying to meet the need.

Rape Crisis England and Wales report in their Covid Report, “Holding It Together”, noted that there has been a 41% increase in demand for specialist services nationally this last year.

“It cannot be stated enough that victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse demonstrate enormous resilience and courage. But perhaps never more so than through this pandemic.”

“[A]s Rape Crisis Centres, we just held it together; we were sitting in spaces with other agencies that had collapsed, imploded, buckled under the pressure, agencies that had stopped functioning at all, whilst we had just carried on. It never occurred to us that we wouldn’t. It never occurred to us that we would shut down because we keep survivors at the heart of what we do.” Director, East of England

At CSASS, I believe we have more than ‘held it together’ -it is positive to see the Supportline and Livechat being used far more, in addition to our group work. Our core counselling service, which so quickly adapted to become a hybrid offer responding to survivor needs, has supported more people in the first half of this year than in the whole of the previous year. We have also been active in looking beyond the service, raising awareness of the issues of abuse, consent and safety, through the Safetynet project in Ellesmere Port, work with students at the University of Chester and the Candlelit Vigil for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, never ceasing to challenge the causes and impacts of sexual abuse.

Thank you to everyone who puts their shoulder to the CSASS plough, I hope you take some encouragement from the knowledge that CSASS is making a difference. I won’t make the mistake of using names -and forgetting someone! -but I want to express my thanks to people who have moved on from CSASS having contributed their time and energy, their ideas and commitment, and to say a huge welcome to those who have joined us of late, in whatever capacity within the organisation. CSASS seeks to be an inclusive team made up of survivors, volunteers, staff, and supporters, who, through working together, genuinely achieve more.

Covid is sadly far from behind us, but it has compelled us to respond and adapt, and we are now looking to the future within this changed context. RCEW have also been working on a new vision for the future, and at a national level they have tried to capture their thinking in 4 words –

Return -what we need to go back to

Retain – what new practices will we keep

Resist -what will we avoid returning to

Radical -what new things would we like to see going forward

I think at CSASS, we could do worse than to use these words and their meanings for the future, in our thinking and planning. On Saturday, November 20th we are holding our annual whole organisation afternoon to consider the future, and in particular issues around diversity and inclusion. Please, if you can spare 3 hours to come along to the Lache Community Centre at 2pm, and be part of the discussion, part of the future, that would be wonderful!

Please email to register your interest (so we can make that there is enough cake to go around).

Chris Mann

Chair of CSASSHawthorn House, Hawthorn Road, Chester 2pm, andbe part of the discussion, part of the future, that would be wonderful!Chris MannChair of CSASS