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one voice foundn logo 600Local group provides support for child abuse victims

The One Voice Foundation is a new local organisation that has been set up to provide support, advice and guidance for survivors of childhood abuse from those who have experienced it themselves. Vanessa Alves reports.

The founder, Sue Adey, is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself, and has successfully convicted two of the 12 paedophiles who assaulted her when she was between the ages of 12 and 16 years.

Founder, Sue Adey

Founder, Sue Adey

Sue and I had a chat over the phone, and her honesty about her journey and her desire that the One Voice Foundation could bridge the gap between survivors, justice and protecting future generations form such harm was inspiring.

Sue began by telling me that, “The foundation was a long time coming, it was something I had always wanted to do, but it had to be at the right time. I had to wait until all the court proceedings were done. The foundation really started going about a year ago.

“At the moment there are 20 volunteers, 6 trustees and 2 potential paid positions. We had our first sponsored event last year and we are now waiting for charitable status. We also have had some qualified counsellors come forward to say they want to help as well.”

Awareness

For Sue, awareness is key. As this is a subject that makes people uncomfortable, not many people want to address this directly. For example, in 2012/13 there were 23,663 recorded sexual offences against children in the UK. Some 19,112 of those were reported by police, including 6,296 rapes.

As we talked, Sue explained that she did tell the authorities, her school and social services and her doctor about what had happened, but nothing substantial was done at the time. She described it as ‘a big can of worms’ once she decided to pursue the men who had abused her.  This came about because she found out that one of her abusers was still working with young people and children. In a statement after the court case, the judge acknowledged the systematic failings of organisations and offered an apology on their behalf.

We discussed one of the main focuses of One Voice – to bring clarity for those who wish to speak out against their abusers and go through the legal system. Sue pointed out that in her own experience there are  many gaps, in particular, in the services for survivors in the South East.

During her lowest points when the court proceedings were taking place against two of the men who had abused her, she tried to access the Mental Health Team over the phone. She was put on hold for three hours until finally an automated voice said that the line was now closed. Graciously, Sue accepted that she knew this service was over-stretched and that it was not because they did not wish to help. This experience helped to fuel her desire to make sure that no-one else would go through that again.

Sue proudly explained that she has had a role to play in changes to two pieces of  legislation concerning this issue. The first is the role of how schools and teachers can make children aware of the dangers of online grooming, which became a part of the curriculum this year.

Victim strategy

The second is the Victim Strategy, brought in last year to ensure survivors can have better support once they have given evidence to the police and they decide to pursue the matter. Traditionally, a person making that step would not be allowed to talk to anyone, and would have limited access to counselling. However, as Sue explained, it is at this point that people need support and currently a Victim Strategy has been put in place to help people access the support they need during the whole process.

The name of the foundation was inspired by Barry Manilow’s song One Voice, Sue explained. The song was important to her during the trials along with her faith and the significance of  the lyrics of standing up and surviving the odds helped Sue to form her vision of the foundation.

“I want people to have a place to go to and ask questions and begin a discussion about this subject. [MP] Amber Rudd has given us incredible support and it makes it easier to having more awareness, especially for kids. I want to go into schools and make sure agencies are more clued up about this. It’s not about me, but the next generation. I don’t want other kids to go what I went through. Paedophiles are clever and we need to make kids more aware.”

Sue has not only turned her experiences into something positive but continues to live life with vivacity. She explained to me that though she suffers from PTSD and short-term memory loss, she  is currently writing an A-to-Z book about the legal system for survivors. She is also planning a sponsored climb up Ben Nevis in the summer.

Meanwhile The One Voice Foundation is in need of a website designer, a printer and a patron. If you can help with any of these needs or if you wish to donate, please do not hesitate to contact the foundation on their Facebook page or by email at theonevoicefoundation@gmail.com.

The first edition of the newsletter has already been produced with information on their fundraising, events, campaigns and successes, and updates on services they can offer as fundraising allows.

Aims

The aims of the foundation  are:

  1. To raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse and support adult survivors for as long as needed.
  2. To educate every one about the Sexual Offences Act and Amendments and the impact this has on historical childhood abuse cases.
  3. To signpost survivors to the support services available and to train counsellors to fill the gaps in these services so all survivors can access the support they need.
  4. To create an online resource via a website and Facebook page for survivors and their loved ones to find the help, support and advice they need.
  5. To operate a phone line for survivors where they can ask questions and talk to people without fear of judgement.
  6. To develop and deliver an outreach programme for schools and community groups on identifying grooming and being safe in internet chat rooms, and promoting the awareness of childhood sexual abuse.
  7. To campaign for change to the laws which prevent survivors from speaking about their abuse to a counsellor until after their hearing.
  8. To produce an A– Z on how to navigate the legal system when reporting a crime and after.

Sue Adey and The One Voice Foundation are sure to make a big impact on East Sussex; as for Sue, she continues to live a life that goes beyond the pain of her past and looks to build a safer future for all children.

 

Posted 21:31 Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 In: Health Matters

1 Comment


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. J B KNIGHT

    WELL DONE.

    Please stream volunteers and counsellors, There are some right idiots out there who want to come alongside for their own reasons.

    Comment by J B KNIGHT — Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 @ 12:15

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