A charity offering support to parents of sexually abused children is to receive funding from Dorset's police commissioner.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has awarded money to Acts Fast, a Dorset-based charity which provides holistic support to the non-abusive family of a sexually abused child.

OPCC says there are gaps in services and a lack of support in place for non-abusive parents, carers and families following a disclosure of child sexual abuse. Acts Fast aims to fill this void, by providing a dedicated counselling service, as well as drop-in sessions run at locations in Dorchester, Bournemouth and Poole.

PCC Martyn Underhill said: "With OPCC funding, I am delighted that Acts Fast will continue to provide much-needed counselling and support services across Dorset. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than learning that your child has been sexually abused.

"Acts Fast is a unique charity that aims to alleviate the isolation and distress experienced by the non-abusive family, who should not be left feeling lost, struggling with the trauma while also trying to meet the needs of the victim/s. Acts Fast has stepped in many times, helping families in Dorset to pick up the pieces."

The funding has been awarded through the Ministry of Justice Victims’ Fund - a grant allocated to OPCCs to specifically be used to support organisations providing a service to victims of child sexual abuse.

Mandy Gulliver, CEO and co-founder of Acts Fast, said: "We are extremely pleased to be supported by the OPCC. When your child discloses they have been sexually abused we liken it to a ‘bomb going off’ with the shrapnel hitting everyone around. With the commissioning of our services we are able to continue to help families affected by child sexual abuse."

The funding will enable the charity to employ an additional member of support staff to meet demand.

Dr Andrew Mayers, chairman of trustees at Acts Fast and principal academic at Bournemouth University, said: "Children who are sexually abused are more likely to experience a lifetime of mental health problems. Acts Fast helps reduce that impact by working with the child and family as they navigate life after abuse, but we cannot do that without funding.”

One service user received emotional support and guidance on how to support her family after disclosure of child sexual abuse. She said: “I desperately needed to speak to someone who could understand the rollercoaster of emotions I was on. Acts Fast was like a lifeline for me.”

Over the last two years, the charity has received 65 referrals, provided 104 hours of counselling, 270 hours of drop-in services, 109 hours of phone support, 38 hours of email support and 26 hours of text support.

Visit www.dorset.pcc.police.uk