It has helped around 1,000 children and young people who have been sexually abused since it started around a decade ago.

And bosses at Fresh Start New Beginnings - a charity which has bases in the city - fears the organisation is now seeing the knock-on effect of Covid lockdowns.

The number of referrals in people under that age of 21 increased by 26 in January, and another 29 last month.

This is usually one of the organisation's quietest times of the year.

That is why it is hoping to move to a city centre base in the next few months to keep up with rising demand, according to Tina King, Norfolk team manager and managing director Patsy Johnson-Cisse.

Ms King said: "People are better educated to speak out about it. The biggest rise we have seen is in peer-on-peer abuse. The issue of child sexual abuse won't go away."

The charity offers one-to-one therapeutic services for as long as a person needs it, including people whose cases are being investigated by the police and going through the courts, after being referred by specialists.

It also allows people to have repeat therapy sessions as well as offering group sessions for victims and their families.

She added: "Someone who is experiencing abuse should tell a trusted adult and if they don't listen the first time tell them or someone else again. People need to listen and act. Don't ignore it."

Mrs Johnson-Cisse said: "Government statistics say that one in 10 young people are sexual abuse victims and there are 178,000 people aged under 18 in Norfolk. That is criminal. People need to realise abuse goes on in all walks of life."

She added it was important to get help quickly because it could have serious ramifications on people's mental health.

The managing director said funding was a battle and it cost an average of £2,500 per person for therapy.

But she was hoping the charity, which started in Norfolk in 2017, could help a combined 300 people across Norfolk and Suffolk between April 1 this year and March 31 next year.

It currently cares for just over 200 people in the region.

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