A new paid counselling service could be introduced for victims of sexual violence and abuse, to ease the pressure on waiting lists for free counselling.

According to the Sexual Violence Support Consortium 3,400 South Gloucestershire men and women were sexually assaulted from 2016-17.

The new service could relieve pressure on the 'overstretched' free counselling providers in the region.

In the Consortium's 2018 Sexual Violence Needs Assessment for Avon and Somerset, survivors said waiting times, a lack of awareness of support available, and how to access it, were barriers to seeking support.

One survivor said: “When you find the courage to speak to someone, you want to do it there and then, not in six weeks’ time.” We know that demand for specialist support cannot be met with existing provision and available public funds."

Voscur, a support agency for for Bristol’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, has been given a National Lottery grant to conduct a feasibility study to find out if people would consider using a paid counselling service.

A survey has been produced to find out what the service should look like and how much it should cost.

Any survivor of sexual violence and/or abuse (or, in case of children, a parent/carer of a child survivor) living in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Somerset or South Gloucestershire is eligible to take the survey, and their answers will remain anonymous.

To take the survey go to: bit.ly/2T8v7gi.