Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol Office Nominates SARSAS As Charity of the Year
A Somerset charity which supports those who have experienced rape or sexual abuse is set for a fundraising boost after colleagues at the Bristol office of Irwin Mitchell nominated the organisation to be their Charity of the Year for 2019.
The national law firm’s annual charity initiative sees staff across 13 of its offices take part in a vote to select a good cause which they can support through both voluntary work and fundraising events.
It is part of work undertaken by the Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation (IMCF), an independent charity founded in 1997 which has raised more than £1.8 million for charities in the UK and abroad.
This year, the Bristol office of Irwin Mitchell has voted to give its support to Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS). The specialist organisation works across Somerset and the surrounding area to provide advice and help to anyone who has experienced sexual violence in their lives.
Expert Opinion“As a firm we have always been passionate about doing what we can to support important causes and organisations through the IMCF and the Charity of the Year initiative.
“SARSAS provides invaluable support to people who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence and we hope that the funds we raise across coming this year will help it continue to undertake that incredibly important work.
“Helping good causes is a core part of life here at Irwin Mitchell and we are excited about seeing just how much we can do for SARSAS and our other chosen charities across the coming months.” Julie Lewis - Partner
SARSAS provides support in a range of ways to those who have experienced sexual violence. As well as operating a confidential helpline, the charity runs regular support sessions, counselling and email support for individuals.
It also offers training and advice to professionals, while it can provide support to the friends and family of those whose lives have been affected by rape or abuse. The funds raised by Irwin Mitchell will support all aspects of the charity’s work.
Claire Bloor, the CEO at SARSAS, said: “SARSAS is thrilled and incredibly grateful to be chosen as Irwin Mitchell’s Charity of the year for 2019. Two women every hour experience serious sexual assault in our area every week. This coupled with the trending #MeToo movement and high profile sexual abuse cases mean more survivors than ever are coming forward and seeking help. At SARSAS we endeavour to be right there with them, listening, believing and supporting them. In this context support from partners like Irwin Mitchell is more vital than ever and will allow us to responds to this increased need.”
Support of companies like Irwin Mitchell will enable SARAS to continue helping people like Mary, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Mary was sexually abused as a child and recently suffered emotional and physical neglect during an abusive relationship. In her late 40’s she turned to SARAS for counselling feeling confused and upset.
Claire added: “We explored this in her counselling sessions, and through hearing and holding her pain from the past, and psychoeducation, she began to understand and forgive herself.
“By learning that she had put unconscious protections in place, like not crying, not feeling, using humour as a defence and putting herself down before anyone else had a chance, she had put her trauma feelings on hold. She was feeling them now as she was no longer in a position where she had to weather abuse and survive, so it was ‘safe’ to feel those feelings. Every session gave her more space and permission just to be with however she was feeling, which allowed her to do it more when not in counselling.
“Week by week she allowed herself to look after herself more. She started decorating at home, rediscovered time to herself and her emotions to be felt as and when they came up.”
After five months of counselling, Mary returned to work, in a role where she is helping others. Something she felt would never be possible. She wrote to SARAS thanking them for their help and said: “Your support over the last five months has changed my life. When I remember how I came to you - that person no longer feels familiar to me.
“I’ve come away from our sessions wiser, kinder and most importantly, safer. I know that I’m a work in progress but I now no longer hide behind humour and I’m looking forward to a productive and contented future.
“I intend to take the things that I have learnt and keep learning. To listen to my inner voice and know that I’m a bright, intelligent and beautiful woman. I pray that you realise how valuable you are to us survivors and for that I will cherish you always.”