The Lighthouse

Introduction

Co-ordinated support for children who have been sexually abused 

The Lighthouse is a multi-agency service for children and young people who have experienced any form of sexual abuse, including exploitation. It offers a child-centred approach, providing guidance and support to help children and young people recover.

The Lighthouse is the first service of its kind in the UK. It’s funded by the Home Office, NHS England, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Department for Education. NHS England has commissioned the health and wellbeing services which will be provided by University College London Hospitals (UCLH), The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trusts, and the NSPCC supported by Morgan Stanley.

How it works

How The Lighthouse works

The Lighthouse provides a multi-agency response to children with trained specialists working as an interdisciplinary team in the same building to make sure children and their families receive the support they need.

Advocacy

Advocates guide children, young people and their families through their journey of recovery, helping them access the support they need at every step, including the court process.

Medial support

Undergoing medical examinations can be traumatic for children who have experienced abuse. At The Lighthouse, a play specialist helps the child prepare for medical assessments, which are carried out by a paediatrician and supported by a nurse. The child or young person can choose whether to have the assessment on their own or with a trusted adult present. 

Criminal justice

If a child has been sexually abused, a specially trained police officer should conduct an Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interview with them to gather the facts of the case and the evidence for prosecuting the perpetrator. At The Lighthouse this interview can be conducted by a clinical psychologist who is supported by a police officer. This helps reduce re-traumatisation whilst still achieving the best possible evidence.

Emotional support

Having emotional support and therapy can help children start to recover from the abuse they have experienced. The Lighthouse prioritises children’s emotional needs with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) practitioners providing early and long-term emotional support to children and young people. Our therapeutic services, Letting the Future In and Protect and Respect are also available to children and young people.

Liaising with other services

The Lighthouse has two police liaison officers and two social care liaison officers who offer advice and liaise with the local police, children’s social care services and multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH).

Evidence base

Evidence base

When a child or young person discloses sexual abuse, they and their families are often left to navigate the health, police and courts system by themselves.

Having to relive traumatic experiences with different professionals both when evidence is gathered and again when a case comes to trial can cause children and young people further distress (Children’s Commissioner for England, 2016).

A review of the pathway for children and young people who were sexually assaulted in London identified significant gaps in the emotional and health support provided (Goddard, Harewood and Brennan, 2015). Children who do receive help may have waited months for the important therapy and support they need (Goddard, Harewood and Brennan, 2015; NSPCC, 2016; Warrington et al, 2017). But we know that experiencing sexual abuse can have significant short and long term effects on mental health (Khadr et al, 2018; Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) et al, 2017).

The Lighthouse is based on the international Child House (Barnahus) model, which was established in Reykjavik in 1998. Inspired by child advocacy centres in America, the model is a child-friendly, interdisciplinary and multi-agency response to children who have been sexually abused (Guðbrandsson, 2015). It provides a safe place for children and young people to recover from abuse at their own pace and rebuild their lives.

Who it is for

Who is The Lighthouse for?

The Lighthouse is a service for children and young people in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington who have experienced any form of sexual abuse, including exploitation.

Making a referral

To make a referral to The Lighthouse please use the contact details in the Locations tab or download a referral form from The Lighthouse website.

Locations

The Lighthouse location

The Lighthouse is based in North London covering Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.

Contact details

Telephone: 020 3049 0010
Email: thelighthouse.ask@nhs.net

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 10am - 8pm
Sunday: 10 am - 1pm
All services are available by booked appointment only.

Evaluation

Evaluation

The Lighthouse is being evaluated by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

References and resources

References and resources

Children's Commissioner for England (2016) Barnahus: improving the response to child sexual abuse in England (PDF). London: Children's Commissioner for England.

Goddard, A., Harewood, E. and Brennan, L. (2015) Review of pathway following sexual assault for children and young people in London (PDF). London: NHS England.

Guðbrandsson, B (2015) Barnahus – Children’s House – a child-friendly, interdisciplinary and multiagency response to child abuse and services for child victims. The European Forum on the Rights of the Child, Brussels, 03-04 June 2015.

Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) et al. (2017) The impacts of child sexual abuse: a rapid evidence assessment: summary report (PDF). London: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Khadr, S et al (2018) Mental and sexual health outcomes following sexual assault in adolescents: a prospective cohort study. Lancet Child Adolescent Health 2018 (2): 654-65

NSPCC (2016) It's time: campaign report. London: NSPCC. 

Warrington et al (2017) Making noise: children's voices for positive change after sexual abuse (PDF). Luton: University of Bedfordshire.