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Lifecentre was founded in 2001 on the grassroots initiative of a group of friends who had identified that there were no specialised services available between Portsmouth and Brighton for people who had been raped or sexually abused. In the beginning, everyone gave their time on a voluntary basis. A telephone helpline for adults opened two nights a week in May 2001 and then two professional counsellors were employed by the autumn of that first year to offer face-to-face counselling to adult survivors. Set-up funding was provided by Chichester District Council, Sussex Police and West Sussex County Council, and other donations came in from the generosity of local groups and individuals. Members of a church in Chichester donated all the furniture and equipment needed to set up a small base. By 2003, we had appointed a specialist youth counsellor and begun our work with Under 18s.

We remain committed to providing a specialist service to those who through no fault of their own have suffered the human rights atrocity of sexual abuse.

A word from Lifecentre's founder and director, Maggie Ellis:

“We just started small, did what we could and haven’t stopped doing that. My philosophy is that if you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never been to bed with a mosquito! Sexual abuse is a human rights atrocity going on under our very suburban noses. I am personally motivated by my own family’s history as Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust (humbled by the knowledge that some of my family did not survive). In current British society we can be lulled into a false inertia that atrocities do not go on now, here, in our towns and villages. Martin Niemöller’s famous speech in 1946 resonates behind my passion to speak out for the reality of sexual atrocities going on now, here and in my town, and to strengthen other survivors in finding their voice too.”

C120963-1 Life Centre phot kate Maggie Ellis, founder and director of the Life Centre in Chichester, and psychosexual therapist.C120963-1

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Martin Niemöller, 1946

Lifecentre now has 3 counselling venues across West Sussex – in Chichester, Crawley and Worthing. We have expanded our services to offer play therapy to children as young as 3, and we are developing our work with survivors who have learning disabilities.

Demand for counselling at Lifecentre has grown every year and we are currently the busiest we have ever been. During 2016:

  • We had 365 adult referrals for counselling
  • We had 135 U18s referrals for counselling – 7% of these were for children aged 10 or under
  • We delivered a total of 4,165 individual counselling sessions, an increase of 18% on the previous year
  • We received 1,520 calls to our phone helplines
  • We received over 19,000 texts to our text helpline

Lifecentre relies on charitable donations to deliver all the services we offer. We are grateful for any financial contributions, no matter how small, as these enable us to keep our services available and affordable for those who need them.

Discover how you could support Lifecentre