It’s been a year since Clinic26 launched and we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to it. Our aim was to provide a safe space where men who had experienced sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape could access sexual health testing and advice in a safe space whilst also getting advice on sexual abuse support services. When we launched, the unique set up of the clinic brought lots of media interest from BBC London News to Radio 5 Live.
Over the year 25 appointments have been booked. Through these, 16 men have attended and accessed emotional support from SurvivorsUK and sexual health support from Barts Health. These men have ranged in age from 18 to 84 and have come from a number of backgrounds and with varied experiences of abuse.
Importantly, of the 16 men who have attended, five had never previously spoken to anyone about the abuse they experienced. This is what makes Clinic26 so important – there are still people who have not been given an opportunity, who have not been offered a safe space, to tell their story.
Alan Robertson, our Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) and Operations Manager who attends the clinic said, “So many of the men who come to Clinic26 just want to talk. They’ve never been able to speak to someone about what’s happened to them before and talking to someone where they know they won’t be judged is massively important.”
“Accessing an advice service around something so personal can be really daunting – we think having the clinic within the hospital helps people feel anonymous and more like to come in.”
Our first year of Clinic26 has not come without its challenges. While, on the back of media coverage of the launch of the clinic, we were initially oversubscribed, the clinic has been less busy in recent months. We would love to expand and work in more areas across London, making sure that any man has the chance to access understanding and respectful support. Our continued battle is to get the message out to the men who need it most – we are here and we can support you.