London’s only charity supporting male survivors of sexual abuse granted funding for counselling service

A charity based in Tower Hamlets will provide over 800 therapy sessions each year to London’s male survivors of sexual abuse thanks to new funding.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, awarded SurvivorsUK £120,000 for the counselling service.

The money will go towards one-to-one and telephone therapy sessions for male survivors of sexual abuse, supporting 30 people per year.

The charity will offer victims weekly counselling in a supportive, safe and non-judgmental space in Tower Hamlets.

SurvivorsUK is the only organisation in London that specifically helps male victims of sexual abuse. Currently, the charity has 190 people on its waiting list for counselling, the majority of which are based in London. On average, SurvivorsUK receives 28 new referrals each month.

Alison Gowman, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

SurvivorsUK has turned around so many lives through its vital support services.

“There is a clear demand for this new counselling service which will ensure more people are getting the help they need.

“Now under new leadership SurvivorsUK is looking to become more flexible with its counselling services, which will certainly be welcome news to many. This will allow the charity to provide more easily accessible support.

“Tackling disadvantage across the capital is essential to making London a fairer and better place to live.”

Andy Connolly, Director of SurvivorsUK said:

“SurvivorsUK is committed to supporting male survivors of sexual abuse, assault and rape and this funding means we can offer high quality and flexible counselling in London.

“Our service users often tell us that such support is instrumental to their recovery, and is sometimes described as life-saving.

“This grant will help us to continue such important work."

Founded in 1986, SurvivorsUK is the longest standing specialist provider offering support to male sexual abuse victims in London.

The charity offers a long-term therapeutic service, and going forward is seeking to provide greater flexibility through the provision of telephone as well as face-to-face treatment.

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

The Trust has awarded around 8,000 grants totalling over £400 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Case Study – Paul’s story

Paul is a 35-year-old man from London. Paul was sexually abused by a family friend from age seven to ten. The abuse stopped when the perpetrator moved away. Paul did not talk to anyone about the abuse as a child.

He was known in his family as “moody” because of his preference for being on his own. Paul was often labelled a “geek” at school. His close friends tended to be girls, although sexual and romantic relationships have always felt difficult for him.

Two years ago Paul heard the man who abused him had returned to the area and is now a grandfather. This prompted a fast and frightening onset of depression for Paul. He was troubled by memories of the abuse and found it increasingly difficult to connect with other people. Paul drank heavily, struggled to maintain his business and his relationship ended.

After he told his ex-partner about the abuse, she encouraged Paul to report it to the police and they referred him to SurvivorsUK.

Paul has an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor and has been in counselling for four months.

Paul says that talking to professionals in the police and SurvivorsUK has dramatically improved his trust in people, his ability to speak about the abuse, and to seek support from friends. Unfortunately, the response of his family has been rejecting and hurtful.

Paul has had to detail the abuse to the police, and talking about what happened is not a priority for him in counselling. He’s concentrating on developing his self-care and re-evaluating his family relationships.

Writing and sport have helped Paul to stop drinking, but getting out of bed to work, going for a run or having a coffee with friends feels challenging most days.

Negative interactions with his family can leave Paul feeling alone, sad and angry but he describes counselling as a place where he comes to feel connected, even during difficult times.

Paul recently went on holiday with a new girlfriend which he called a major milestone, and plans to continue building the support and stability he has started to find for himself.