WORK is almost complete on the new regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Antrim Area Hospital, The Rowan.
The building which is due to open in the Spring will be the first of its kind serving the whole of Northern Ireland.
It will provide 24 hour care and support, 365 days a year to victims in the aftermath of sexual assault.
The project is a joint initiative between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The purpose of The Rowan is to provide a one-stop location for all victims, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past.
The centre will also provide a comprehensive and co-ordinated package of care to promote recovery and wellbeing. Victims will be able to access the service through self-referral, third party referral or through the Police Service. The core opening hours will be between 9am and 5pm. Outside of these hours, and at weekends, victims will have telephone access to a trained Rowan Nurse who will arrange an appointment to attend the centre.
Chief Superintendent Mark Hamilton, from the PSNI’s Service Improvement Department said: “I welcome that work is almost complete on this important and exciting new venture between ourselves and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The experience of being a victim of any type of crime is a very difficult one. This new state-of-the art facility will provide people across all of Northern Ireland with privacy and dignity to both victims and their families.
“I would encourage anyone who has been or who is a victim of abuse to report it to the Police Service or contact their local health care provider”.
Sean Donaghy, Chief Executive of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust said: “The new Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Antrim Area Hospital is vital to improving the standard of care for victims of sexual violence across Northern Ireland.
“It will provide victims with care in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, rape or childhood sexual abuse. The specialist staff, trained in caring for victims of sexual abuse, will deliver high standards of care to those using the centre”.