The Health Minister, Justice Minister and Chief Constable have officially launched The Rowan in Antrim – Northern Ireland’s only regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
The Rowan offers a range of services and support to anyone who has been sexually abused, assaulted or raped, whether this happened recently or in the past.
The service officially opened on Friday and is open to those who wish to self-refer directly by calling 0800 389 4424.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Sexual violence and abuse have a devastating impact on victims and their families. Our collective aim should be to keep all children and adults safe from harm and to prevent them being abused.
“However, we sadly cannot prevent it all the time and it is vital that when it happens, we have services in place to help them deal with, and hopefully overcome, their experience. The Rowan is a tremendous facility that provides these services in a safe, secure and confidential environment.”
Justice Minister David Ford said: “The housing of such specialist medical and forensic services under one roof, with the assistance from other statutory and voluntary organisations, will improve the standards of care and support available to victims at what is understandably a very difficult, unsettling and emotional time.
“Importantly, along with being a safe and caring environment, a key element of the Rowan will be the ability to obtain significant and timely evidence aimed at bringing the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes to justice.
The range of services offered at the Rowan includes: forensic medical examination by a specially trained doctor; emergency contraception; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; emotional support; support in making a report to the Police; referral on to counselling; follow-up support; and a 24 hour advice and information line 0800 389 4424.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott commended the new state of the art facility stating: “This world class centre will provide a one-stop location for all victims who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past, through self-referral, third party referral or through our officers.
“The experience of being a victim of any type of crime is a very difficult one. However, the Rowan Centre will provide a complete and co-ordinated package of care to promote recovery and wellbeing and greatly enhance the investigative process.”
Margaret O’Hagan, Interim Director for Acute Services for the Northern Trust, said: “We’re pleased to officially open the Rowan which is situated in the grounds of Antrim Area Hospital. The Rowan is a purpose-built facility with dedicated healthcare staff who work collaboratively with PSNI to provide physical, psychological and social care in a confidential and supportive environment.”
For more information, visit www.therowan.net