April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so we caught up with Harry Wide, a crisis worker and male service development officer at The Bridge - the sexual assault referral service based at Central Health Clinic - to find out more about the vital care provided by the crisis team.

The Bridge is such an important service because we are the place where recovery starts.

From the minute a client steps through our doors, we provide them with the time, space, safety and support needed to start to making things right again, in a way that is tailored to them as an individual.

As the single point of access for all survivors of rape and sexual assault across Avon & Somerset, the most important thing we do is give our clients a choice. We provide our clients with the options to take control of what happens next, regardless of whether or not they choose to report the incident to the police. We also make it clear that it is never too late to talk to us; support is always available, no matter how long ago something happened.

I’m a crisis worker first; however I also play a key role in service development, ensuring that we are constantly doing the best we can to make our services known, accessible and welcoming to male survivors. On average, it takes 26 years for a man to speak out – it’s not an issue of asking men to speak louder, it’s all about listening more, and this is why having a male service lead is so important, to ensure that male clients are heard and represented.

When clients visit our service, it is important that we make their visit as comfortable as possible. Our clients all receive a washbag, filled with a range of lovely toiletries, and clothing if necessary. Despite this sounding like a small thing, it really can make all the difference to an individual visiting our service.

These special gestures and added details just wouldn’t be possible without the amazing and admirable work from charities, such as Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity. They are all small things that go a long way to making a difference for patient care, comfort and experience.

We want to continue to ensure that The Bridge is a safe, welcoming and accessible service for all individuals in the communities we serve.

- By Harry Wide, crisis worker and male service development officer at The Bridge

Following a recent generous donation from the Quartet Community Foundation, The Bridge was able to purchase more clothes and toiletries for service users. If you would like to make a difference to survivors of sexual assault, please donate to The Bridge (Central Health Centre) today.