A CHARITY has launched a special helpline to support victims of child abuse at schools under investigation in North Yorkshire.

Survive, which was started in York in 1990 to help men and women who were abused as children, is running the helpline during the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse at Ampleforth and Ealing Abbey and College.

So far, more than 4,000 documents are on record in the review, with material from police forces, The Independent Schools Inspectorate and the Charity Commission.

The support line went live at the end of November. It is run by trained Survive staff, available from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, and is set to be in place until the end of March.

Dani Wardman, from the charity, said: “When abuse stories dominate the headlines we often forget the impact this has on the victims. It is a significant step that Ampleforth and now Ealing have recognised the importance of providing support to those who have suffered sexual abuse under their care. It is impossible to predict numbers of calls but the first step is getting the phone number into the public domain.

“Survive are here to support survivors of sexual violence and we really hope those who have experienced this at Ampleforth or Ealing know they can give us a call.”

Services available from Survive include one to one and group counselling sessions as well as its own helpline and the new helpline.

Dani said: “Talking to Survive can be the first step that gets a survivor’s life back on track and the phone call to the helpline enables the survivor to get the right help and support with any issue they’re going through, no matter how big or small.

“It’s vital that survivors are aware of the support available to them. This dedicated support line for Ampleforth and Ealing survivors offers free and confidential practical help and emotional support no matter when a crime took place or if the police are involved.”

Ampleforth Abbey contacted Survive to set up the helpline, but any victims or survivors who wish to speak to the Abbey can phone Mick Walker, safeguarding coordinator, on 01439 766013 or email mick.walker@ampleforth.org.uk

Sarah Opie, communications director for the Abbey, said: “We offer a heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered abuse in our schools, monastery, parishes or other ministries. The helpline run by Survive York is there for anyone seeking help who does not want to speak to us; please contact 0808 145 1890 or 01904 803927 for expert, confidential advice. A number of our monks have received training from Survive on how best to listen and respond to survivors of abuse who may wish to speak to a member of the community.

She said one monk who had been on the course had said: “The training from Survive was very helpful. It gave me a deeper insight into the likely feelings of those who have been abused, and I feel it prepared me to be more sympathetic and helpful to survivors who contact us.”

To find out more or speak to Survive, phone 0808 1451890.