What is a Sexual Violence Liaison Officer? 

We know that seeking support and guidance after experiencing sexual violence or harassment is not always an easy decision to make. There are all kinds of reasons why you may be worried about seeking help. We understand this and have a team of Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) who can come alongside you as you begin to make decisions about your support and reporting options. 

SVLOs are members of staff who have been specially trained to provide students with confidential, non-judgemental support; their work is always in confidence unless they believe someone is in danger. 

SVLOs receive training in empathetic and active listening, signposting, and ensuring survivors have all appropriate support in place. 

Who can use the SVLO service?

Our SVLO team supports all survivors, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or ethnicity, disability, religious belief or faith, or any other protected characteristic. Our SVLOs will approach your support and care holistically, and they will offer support and guidance that is appropriate for you as an individual. 

What do SVLOs do?

First and foremost, SVLOs will listen. 

They will provide a safe and confidential space where you can talk about what’s happened and its impact on you. They will guide you through the reporting, protection, and care options available from both the University and external organisations. 

SVLOs will empower you to make informed decisions and support you whatever these decisions may be. Our SVLOs will never pressure you into making a report to the Police, or a formal complaint to the University. 

Your SVLO will keep what you have told them confidential, unless they believe there is significant risk that requires safeguarding. If you would like to ask about this in more detail, you can email reportandsupport@newcastle.ac.uk and one of our team will get back to you. 

What kind of support will I be offered?

Your SVLO will work with you to help you access a range of support and reporting options appropriate to your needs and what you would like to do. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Specialist counselling for survivors (we have provision for all genders) 
  • Support to access a Sexual Assault Referral Centre 
  • Information and support on pursuing a formal complaint (if you are reporting another student or colleague) 
  • Referral to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors who can provide practical and emotional support 
  • Support to inform your school of any support you might need with your studies because of what’s happened (if you consent to this – we will not automatically inform your school) 
  • Referral to specialist advice and guidance on areas such as finances, housing, and disability 

As you can see from the list above, sometimes we will ask you if you consent to being referred to an external service such as Rape Crisis. Our SVLOs will ensure that your support is tailored to your individual needs so that you get the best possible support. Where we do suggest referral to an external organisation the decision to consent to this remains with you as the survivor.

You can communicate with your SVLO in a way that works for you – email, telephone, face-to-face, or video calls. 

How do I access the service? How do I find an SVLO?

To get in touch with a SVLO please visit Report + Support and click on ‘Speak to Advisor’. You will be asked to enter some basic information and give us your contact details so that we can assign the most appropriate SVLO to support you. 

We aim to respond within two working days. Our working days are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays. Depending on the information you provide, we may call or email you to discuss your needs in more detail, or we may assign you to an SVLO who will contact you directly. For details of what happens to your data click here

Using Report and Support does not mean that you are making an official report to the University or the Police, and it does not trigger any automatic reporting or notification processes. Your report will be treated confidentially, unless we believe you or others are in immediate danger. You do not need to make an official report to the Police or the University to receive support.

Who are the SVLOs, and why do they do this work?

Our SVLOs are specially trained colleagues from across the University. We believe that sexual violence and sexual harassment is a whole of community issue which requires a whole of community response, which is why we use this approach.

Our SVLOs are passionate about providing safe- non-judgemental support for survivors and they volunteer for many reasons. We asked some of our SVLOs why they do this work. 

“When the university launched a call for SVLOs, I was reading Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism (2014) at the time and had just reached the chapter on sexual violence in Higher Education. I was dismayed by what I was reading and saw the opportunity to become one of Newcastle University’s SVLOs as a proactive way for me to help address the issue. Supporting individuals who have experienced sexual violence is demanding work but it is extremely empowering.” 

"I became an SVLO as I wanted to have an active role in helping students on campus, by listening to students concerns and helping them decide which support is best for them.  I understand, that at times situations can feel overwhelming and students may feel alone. As an SVLO I hope to alleviate some of these feelings by offering a listening ear and guidance." 

“I’m often frustrated by the media’s lack of understanding of sexual violence as something that can affect anyone, not just White cis-gender women. I volunteered to become an SVLO because I wanted to use my knowledge of the complexity of sexual violence to make sure that survivors can seek support in a way that feels safe and welcoming for them. I hope that in speaking openly about the fact that this can affect anyone, more survivors are empowered to come forward for validation and support.” 

I’m a colleague and I’d like to become an SVLO

We welcome expressions of interest to become an SVLO from colleagues who are currently employed at the University - you can email reportandsupport@ncl.ac.uk for more information.  If you hold a part-time role we may be able to adjust the role's time commitment to allow for this, please email using the above address to discuss in more detail.

We open calls for expressions of interest a few times a year, and there is a selection process during which we ask for approval from your line manager to take on the role. We ask SVLOs for an average commitment of three hours per week, and we ask for your commitment to being on the team for 2 years.

We are unable to consider expressions of interest from current undergraduate or postgraduate students wishing to be SVLOs. However, we always want to hear about how you think we can improve the SVLO service - email  reportandsupport@ncl.ac.uk to let us know what you think. (We will hold your feedback in confidence unless we believe you or others are in danger, or safeguarding is required).

If you are a student and you are passionate about eliminating sexual violence, and supporting fellow students, you may wish to consider the following societies:

It Happens Here - aims to support all survivors and allies of sexual violence on campus through campaigns, socials, self-defence, self-care and support groups,

Sexpression -  advocates for good-quality relationships and sex education (RSE), delivered by university students across the country.  Within the Newcastle branch we visit local schools and help them to deliver RSE by running lessons on topics such as puberty, consent, relationships, sexual health, sexuality and gender identity, and the media. 


There are two ways you can tell us what happened