Kim Hosier, Centre Director, explains how the centre’s new premises, purchased with support from a Charity Bank loan, represents a pivotal move forward for the organisation.
“Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS) started out as a grassroots organisation in 1981. There had been several rapes around the Portsmouth area and it became apparent that there were no services in place to support victims. The closest rape crisis centres were in London and so a group of women from the local community got together and created a phone support service.
“Since then, the organisation and services provided have continued to grow and develop in response to the needs of survivors of sexual abuse and rape. Initially a service uniquely for women, it expanded to offer support to men and eventually children of all ages and their families. Over the past six or seven years, other projects have developed, such as outreach and prevention and providing domestic violence counselling.
“The centre in which our central offices and services had been located for many years was in a declining state, with a huge amount of renovation needed. We spent a long time looking for another premises, but nothing quite fit the bill. Eventually, just as we were about giving up hope, we found something perfect. An old residential building that had previously housed a GP practice. It was the right balance of professional and contemporary whilst maintaining a homely, welcoming and supportive feel, essential to what we do.
“The next hurdle though was finding funding. As a small charity with no assets or previous mortgage, we were nervous about finding a lender that would take a risk on us. Luckily, Charity Bank believed in what we were trying to do and was willing to invest in this next step for our organisation. Without Charity Bank, we wouldn’t have been able to buy this new centre and I’m not sure what the future would have held for us.
“It was a new experience for us and a complex process, but the Charity Bank team were friendly, approachable and supportive throughout. We moved into the new centre last month and it’s fantastic. This is a really exciting and transformative move for the future of our services and it was made possible by Charity Bank.”