survivors manchester

Sexual Assault Referral Centre


The Centre

St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was established in 1986 as a joint venture between Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Police Authority and Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University NHS Trust.

The centre aims to provide a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic; support; counselling and medical aftercare service to people in Greater Manchester who have experienced rape or sexual assault/abuse.

What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

St. Mary’s Centre is available to men, women and children that live in or were assaulted in Greater Manchester.
If you are an adult and have experienced sexual abuse in the past we can support you through a criminal prosecution and offer therapeutic counselling.

If this does not apply to you:
Please approach your local police or see the services on our Links page.

If this does apply to you:
You can access the Centre either as a self-referral or via Greater Manchester Police. A referral can also be made by another agency on your behalf and with your consent. Anyone who reports to Greater Manchester Police because s/he has been sexually assaulted will be offered the Centre’s services as part of their reposnse to sexual violence.

Self Referral

If you do not wish to report the matter to the police, you can refer yourself by contacting the Centre by telephone. You will be offered an appointment to attend . If you present yourself at the Centre without prior contact we may not be able to respond as we could be dealing with other cases. The police will not be contacted without your consent. A forensic medical examination will be conducted by a specially trained doctor to undertake a medical examination; documenting any injuries; taking forensic samples and providing assessment for other medical issues and treatment where apporpriate. A crisis worker will also be available to support you. Any samples taken will be stored at the Centre should you wish to make a report at a later date. You will alos be offered the opportunity to provide police with certain information without disclosing your identity

Police Referral

If you want to report the matter to the police, contact your local station and they will arrange to bring you to the Centre for a forensic examination if appropriate. With your consent, a forensic medical examination will be conducted by a specially trained doctor. to undertake a medical examination; documenting any injuries; taking foresnci samples and providing assessment for other medical issues and treatment where appropriate A crisis worker will also be available to support you. If the police are involved with your complaint, then any medical records can and will be seen by both the defence and prosecution lawyers, should the case go to court.

Aftercare and Support

If you do not want an examination you can still access the Centre for support and counselling. This is available even if the assault took place a long time ago. Counselling is also available to partners and relatives of survivors of sexual assault. The forensic examination service is available 24 hours a day by appointment only. Counselling and support appointments must be booked in advance during office hours (9.00am to 5.00pm).

The Forensic Medical Examination

The St. Mary’s Centre conducts the forensic medical examinations of people reporting a recent sexual assault to Greater Manchester Police. All of our doctors are female, very experienced and well trained. We will also examine self-referrals that do not want to have police involvement.

The forensic medical examination is a top-to-toe physical examination looking for injuries and taking samples that may be used as evidence in a police investigation and any subsequent prosecution. Further health needs will be assessed and discussed, such as post coital contraception and assessment for HIV and Hep B.

A (female) Crisis Worker meets the client at the Centre and liases with the doctor and the attending police officers to make the client’s time at the Centre and the examination as easy as possible

The examination, or any aspect of it, will not proceed without the explicit informed consent of the client. The Centre will not contact the police unless the client wishes us to do so. Please note: All information will be held in confidence by the Centre unless there areconcerns for your or anothers safety. If a prosecution results then medical notes may be requested by the Court.


Support is available via an Independent Sexual Violence (ISVA) who will offer support through the crimincal justice process and advise and support you with other practical issues.

This may include:

  • Support through police interview
  • Support at court
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation claims
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Facilitate access to other support healthcare services

The Centre also has a 24 hour telephone support and information line. This is not a telephone counselling service but can offer some support and advice


Counselling is available to survivors of sexual assault who live in or were assaulted in Greater Manchester, and their partners or relatives.

At present, all St Mary’s Centre counsellors are female but if you would like to talk to a male, please speak to someone at the centre as we work closely with Survivors Manchester.

What is counselling?

Counselling is a way for you to think and talk about how you feel. The counsellors at St. Mary’s Centre can help you deal with your feelings after a sexual assault or rape. Talking in private with a counsellor can help you:

  • Understand how the experience has affected you.
  • Cope with any changes or difficulties resulting from it.
  • Adapt to life afterwards.
What does the counsellor do?

The counsellor meets you for appointments at the St Mary’s Counselling Suite (in St. Mary’s Hospital), usually once a week. She listens to you in a supportive way, and will not criticise or judge you.

What do I have to do?

It is up to you to decide which aspects of the assault and its effects you want to talk about. It is always your decision to choose what you want to achieve. Counselling is ‘client led’, which means that you remain in control of the sessions. Sometimes you may feel upset and vulnerable during or after sessions. If you are experiencing feelings that disturb you, you can talk to your counsellor about it.

How long will it take?

Each counselling session lasts 50 minutes. Initially some time is spent on building up trust, which can be hard. The number of sessions you attend is up to you, and is different for everyone. Together with your counsellor you work out what is best for you.


The counselling service at St. Mary’s Centre is confidential. However, please note the following important points:
Counsellors sometimes discuss their work with colleagues, but without revealing a client’s identity. They do this in order to improve their skills and help make sure the client gets the best service.

If the assault results in a legal case, there is a possibility that the judge may order counselling notes to be given to the court, however this will be discussed with you on your first appointment.

Information may have to be passed on if you or another person are at risk of harm. This will be discussed at the first counselling session.

Remember, we’re here to help.

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
St Mary’s Hospital
Oxford Road
M13 9WL
0161 276 6515

Clinical Director: Dr. Cath White
Service Manager: Bernie Ryan

A Client’s Journey

St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) recognise the anxiety and uncertainty an individual could feel about attending the centre, so have put together this 20 minute film that the team hope will help breakdown the barriers for someone.

A Client’s Voice

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre clients explain how important the St Mary’s Centre has helped them recover from their experiences of rape and sexual assault.

Stakeholders & Fundraisers

Helpline: 0808 800 5005