Pope Francis visit and Belfast rape trial led to spike in demand for One in Four's services

Pope Francis visit and Belfast rape trial led to spike in demand for One in Four's services
One in Four CEO, Maeve Lewis

A charity that supports victims of child sex abuse says the visit of Pope Francis and the high-profile Belfast rape trial in 2018 led to a spike in the numbers accessing its services.

Over 900 people contacted One in Four for help last year, 111 of whom received its support for the first time. The organisation supported 35 victims through criminal trials.

One in Four says it also worked with 52 men who caused sexual harm, almost half of whom have never been convicted for their crimes.

Many people are willing to admit to causing sexual harm in order to access services, according to the charity.

However, CEO of One in Four, Maeve Lewis, says demand for its services meant it had to close its waiting list for four months of the year.

"2018 was a particularly difficult year because there were two big events, the Belfast rape trial and the visit by Pope Francis," said Ms Lewis.

"In the week Pope Francis was here, 148 people contacted us and at that time, our waiting list was closed.

"I'm really worried what happened to those people when we had to turn them away."

She added: "The reality is that if I had the money to employ three extra psychotherapists in the morning, we would have the clients for them.

"It takes such courage for somebody to reach out and it is just so awful for our reception staff have to say 'I'm really sorry, we can't help you'."

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