Posted 11:30AM on Monday 22 January 2018
Positive Futures, as lead partner, has been awarded £150,000 in Big Lottery funding for a project to support adults with a learning disability who have experienced sexual violence. Working with the counselling service, Nexus NI, to establish how people with a learning disability can be supported to increase resilience and wellbeing, we also aim to help those affected to better navigate the criminal justice process, working with the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service staff to improve their ability in dealing with people who have a learning disability. We will also help develop better data collection to give a clearer picture of how many people with a learning disability experience sexual violence.
Other partners in the project are Queen’s University, the Public Prosecution Service, the PSNI, the Family Planning Association and Compass Advocacy Network.
The project is one of 10 across the UK to receive funding as part of the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5 million scheme led by disabled people. It is delivered locally by Disability Action Northern Ireland.
Positive Futures’ Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny, said: “Remarkably, there is no available breakdown of sexual violence figures to indicate how many victims have a learning disability, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this group may be disproportionately affected. Our aim is to develop a much clearer picture of the situation and to support victims in the often bewildering process of the criminal justice system. By the end of the project, we hope that everyone involved will be better informed so that the trauma of those affected will not be compounded by the justice process. We want to establish best practice where it has not existed before.
“We are grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and the DRILL programme for making this possible, and we look forward to working with Nexus NI and other partners to provide greater empowerment and protection for those affected.”
The project will last two years and will involve people with a learning disability at every stage.