Forty years of supporting victims of abuse in Norfolk

The Sue Lambert Trust offers support to victims of abuse.

The Sue Lambert Trust offers support to victims of abuse. - Credit: Julian Claxton

For more than 40 years, the Sue Lambert Trust has quietly offered kind, safe and supportive, therapeutic help to people who have experienced sexual violence or abuse, including domestic abuse. 

With more than 320 people receiving free, specialist counselling each week, and self-referrals increasing rapidly, the role of this Norfolk charity has never been more important.

Originally known as the Sexual Violence Alliance (SeVA), the charity was renamed in January 2013 to recognise the vast contribution of local campaigner Sue Lambert.


The Sue Lambert Trust offers support to abuse victims.

The Sue Lambert Trust offers support to abuse victims. - Credit: Julian Claxton

Having been sexually assaulted at the age of 16, Sue was a kind and empathetic counsellor and determined campaigner against sexual violence in Norfolk for over 30 years.

Whilst Sue sadly passed away in 2013, the Sue Lambert Trust’s logo still bears her signature.

Sue Lambert Trust is now the main charity in Norfolk offering specialist counselling support to people who have experienced sexual violence.

Unlike some charities, anyone can contact Sue Lambert Trust for help, without having to be referred by a GP or other professional.

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Clive Evans, chief executive of Sue Lambert Trust, said: “Sue Lambert Trust has always benefitted from a passionate and hard-working team of paid staff and volunteer trained counsellors, and we would not be here today without their incredible commitment. We support people who are highly vulnerable and who trust us to help them recover and rebuild their lives.”


Sue Lambert Trust chief executive Clive Evans.

Sue Lambert Trust chief executive Clive Evans. - Credit: Julian Claxton.

“Our counsellors are kind and caring people who help others explore their feelings and emotions related to their past experiences. Through listening non-judgementally and offering a safe space to talk about their traumas and express their feelings and anxieties, counsellors help clients to make sense of their experiences and make changes in their lives.”

After a career in HR, Asha, 61, retrained as a counsellor in 2006, receiving her doctorate in 2017.

“Volunteering with Sue Lambert Trust allows me to put my skills into practice and develop my expertise,” she said.

“I’ve never just wanted to be an academic, I want to do a practical job. Watching the magic happen in the room because the clients are doing the work is very special; you’re just facilitating their process of self-healing, not acting as any sort of expert.

"The work can be really hard, but it can be exhilarating when you see a client start to make progress; when a person says they no longer feel so alone.“

Asha added: “I like the ethics and values of Sue Lambert Trust.

"It’s a charity that really trusts and respects its therapists and treats them well. Counsellors are well supported through individual and group supervision and there is always a clinical lead available if we have a difficult session. Getting that support from colleagues is so valuable.”

Bob, 67, lives with his wife in the Broadland area.

A qualified counsellor, he has volunteered with Sue Lambert Trust since June 2018.


Sue Lambert Trust counsellor Bob

Sue Lambert Trust counsellor Bob - Credit: Sue Lambert Trust

Previously a volunteer for the Samaritans, he noticed that many callers, mostly, but not exclusively females, included sexual and violent trauma as at least part of the reason for their call.

At Sue Lambert Trust, Bob sees around eight clients each week.

“Despite its stresses, the work is immensely rewarding especially when clients tell you that they feel heard and can start to live without their traumatic experience affecting them so much anymore. I look forward to seeing my clients each week and building a relationship of trust with them. Helping someone to move out of the horrible shadow on their life and find their way to deal with what has happened is something which counselling can offer – as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy say: “Counselling changes lives.”

Bob said: “It can be incredibly challenging to witness the suffering of another human being. Therefore, working with Sue Lambert Trust as a volunteer has huge benefits both for the charity and, because of the infrastructure of support, for the counsellor. It provides an excellent opportunity for client work, and we hope counsellors continue to volunteer their services on a long-term basis.”

Alan, 68, lives in Norwich with his wife and trained as a Baptist clergyman before moving into administration.


Sue Lambert Trust counsellor Alan

Sue Lambert Trust counsellor Alan - Credit: Sue Lambert Trust

He moved to Norfolk and worked at Norfolk County Council in a senior management role before early retirement in his 50s.

Alan retrained in person centred counselling and, after qualifying, he specialised in Focusing-Oriented Therapy and gained a PhD in 2014. He began volunteering with the Sue Lambert Trust in 2017.

“Working with these clients opened my eyes, particularly as a male counsellor, when it is often men who have caused harm to clients,” said Alan.

“Our culture seems to accept a shocking level of sexual violence as inevitable and unremarkable in life. Acknowledged or not, most of us will at some time know someone who has experienced sexual violence.”

Alan added: “It can be very hard for people who have suffered this way to let others know what has happened to them.

“Within a family the power of a parent or step-parent can be just too much. Implicitly or explicitly the victim is constrained to silence. Counselling can provide a crucial step in such circumstances, encouraging a person to give voice to what could not be said, acknowledging wrongs that have been done, claiming their own rights to safety, security, and love. The Sue Lambert Trust has a longstanding ethos that comes from working with such clients. We know this work really matters.”

So, what does Alan get out of volunteering at Sue Lambert Trust?

“The sense of belonging to an organisation that has great values is fulfilling. Being a counsellor in private practice can be very isolating but from the moment I started with the Sue Lambert Trust I felt valued as a person, not just for the work I could put in. I feel privileged to work with colleagues I respect and have a stake in something important.”

“And when a client turns to you and says, ‘this has changed my life’… Whilst you know in your heart, they have changed their own life and you are assisting with a process, being part of that process is very satisfying.

After counsellors have volunteered for three sessions a week, Sue Lambert Trust pays them £25 for each subsequent session.


Sue Lambert Trust offers support to victims of abuse

Sue Lambert Trust offers support to victims of abuse - Credit: Julian Claxton

“In April 2019 we received just over 50 referrals from people needing our help. In April 2021 - after the second spring lockdown - we had more than 100,” said Mr Evans. “We never take our volunteer counsellors for granted because we wouldn’t exist without them. Being able to pay them, even just a fraction of what they would earn in private practice, means we can build our pool of therapists and help even more people.”

Sue Lambert Trust is always keen to hear from counsellors who would like to offer their time whilst expanding their skills and knowledge. The charity provides counsellors with one-to-one and group supervision plus regular professional training, free of charge.

Sue Lambert Trust has offices in Norwich and Great Yarmouth and a new hub in Fakenham.


Sue Lambert Trust  offers support to victims of abuse.

Sue Lambert Trust offers support to victims of abuse. - Credit: Julian Claxton

Anyone wishing to access the charity’s services, or to support its work via donation or volunteering, should telephone 01603 622406 or email info@suelamberttrust.org.

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