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Five Herts county councillors grant £2,300 to Bishop's Stortford rape and sexual abuse support service Red Kite




Hertfordshire county councillors have rallied to support Red Kite, the Bishop's Stortford-based support service for victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

The charity has received locality budget donations totalling £2,300 from five Conservative members of the authority in the eastern part of the county.

Red Kite's ambassador trustee, former Stortford mayor Cllr Norma Symonds, a member of both the town and East Herts district councils, is a survivor of rape who has written and talked with brutal honesty about her experiences.

Red Kite deputy chair and treasurer Dr Sue Rayner Jacobs, left, with Cllrs Alastair Ward-Booth and Norma Symonds, the charity's ambassador trustee
Red Kite deputy chair and treasurer Dr Sue Rayner Jacobs, left, with Cllrs Alastair Ward-Booth and Norma Symonds, the charity's ambassador trustee

Cllr Jonathan Kaye, the newly-elected county councillor for Ware South, allocated £500 and said: "I knew Norma had a tough upbringing and drug issues but I hadn't realised just how awful things were. What an amazing woman to come through it, not that you necessarily come through that sort of thing completely."

His donation was matched by Cllrs Alastair Ward-Booth (Bishop's Stortford West), Mark Mills-Bishop (Flamstead End & Turnford) and Lesley Greensmyth (Goffs Oak & Bury Green). Sawbridgeworth's Cllr Eric Buckmaster allocated £300.

Bishop's Stortford Town Council, the Brazier Trust, East Herts Council, Saffron Building Society, the National Lottery, the CoOperative, Bellway Builders, Magdalen Hospital Trust and Tesco's Bags of Help community grant scheme have also donated.

Red Kite logo (48888907)
Red Kite logo (48888907)

The backing comes as incidents of rape and sexual abuse are increasing – Herts police are reporting new highs, with 191 sexual violence crimes since April. Stalking has increased 500%. While the constabulary has one of the best outcome rates in the country, fewer than 2% of alleged perpetrators are prosecuted.

Dr Sue Rayner Jacobs, deputy chair and treasurer of the charity, said: "Red Kite supports victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse in eastern Hertfordshire.

"We listen empathetically to their stories and help them find a solution to living with the emotional disturbance and trauma that their experience may have caused them. Where necessary, we can also refer them to our qualified therapists or other partners and providers in the community. We care so that victims don't suffer alone and in silence."

The charity launched its helpline in December 2020 and has been building up its recovery service so that referrals can be made to its in-house professional counsellors and therapists.

Sue Rayner Jacobs, Norma Symonds and Siobhan Nundram (48888591)
Sue Rayner Jacobs, Norma Symonds and Siobhan Nundram (48888591)

In April, it formed the Friends of Red Kite to highlight the charity's work and the group raised £157 with a pub quiz hosted at the Wheatsheaf in Northgate End by landlady Micelle Brace.

Every Saturday, from 1pm to 3pm, the friends can be found at the Citizens Advice pop-up community space in Jackson Square.

The helpline operates from 8pm to 10pm every evening and from 3pm to 4pm Mondays to Wednesdays. A 24/7 answerphone is available and calls will be responded to within 12 hours.

The charity's executive directors are training a second cohort of volunteers to increase helpline hours.



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