Chief Executive Blog: December 2014
With the end of the year in sight, it always seems like its a time of reflection, like a collective conscious reflection. So a prefect time for me to look back at our year… The most amazing year of Survivors Manchester’s life and mine. The year when we well and truly broke the silence!
Since I started Survivors Manchester, we have literally lived ‘from hand to mouth’, so ending this year with some degree of certainty of our short term future (until March 2016) is incredible! Especially at this time, when financial cuts are being made all over. Dont get me wrong, we are taking a hit too, but with the announcement by the Ministry of Justice that we have been granted an award, we can be certain that we can continue to deliver our services at the current level for the next 18 months. Its a really good position to be in, I can tell you that!
2014 has been an incredible year. It started with the Channel 4 drama, Hollyoaks, airing the long awaited male rape episode that we worked so hard on (seeing a script about every two weeks for the past year filled my reading in my time off quota); and ended with the Ministry of Justice Awarding us nearly £100,000 to support the delivery of our services.
As we travelled through the year, writing funding bids, developing business cases and meeting with commissioners and grant managers; we secured our contract with NHS Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group to provide therapeutic support to male survivors in Manchester; our Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, supported us to deliver our Safer Streets Outreach Project (with our colleagues at The Men’s Room), then to aid us to develop the UKs first ever male specific ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) service!
Having the UK’s first male only ISVA is an incredible honour for us as an organisation and it has meant that already, over 25 men in the past 4 months have been able to access support to report to the police, give evidence, go through the court process and deal with the outcome of any verdict. We have just commissioned Lime Culture to undertake an independent review of our ISVA service and will be publishing findings within the next few months so look out.
Talking of publishing, in 2014 we hit ‘print’ on three documents we are so incredibly proud of. First of all, thanks to the amazing Amelia Somerset at Zurich Community Trust, we were finally able to publish our Social Return on Investment report. This incredible document that Amelia spent hundreds of hours working on is now helping us prove our worth and show decision makers and funders that investing in our services saves so much money. We also published the findings of two projects that I’m personally so proud of. Our Safe Room Group that we ran in HMP Risley was a huge success and was the first peer-support group for male survivors in a UK Prison! Our partnership project with The Men’s Room, Safer Streets, engaged with over 50 young men and our report by Dr Michael Atkins opened our eyes to the truth of what is happening in the city centre and what we can do to help.
‘Opening eyes to the truth’ was easily the theme of 2014 and I’m really proud of what we did to achieve this. We made the national press so many times, in print, on radio and TV (many of which can be seen on our Youtube channel). From an appearance on BBC’s Crimewatch to support an investigation; to two appearances on the BBC Breakfast sofa; and as a guest on channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, we have worked hard to open people’s eyes and break the silence. Hollyoaks was central to this and I would like to publically thank actors James Sutton, Keith Rice, Lizzie Roper; and the writers, directors, crew and whole team, especially Exec Producer Bryan Kirkwood for making such a commitment to a life changing storyline.
I want to ensure that everything we do could have a positive impact on changing people’s lives and I truly believe that this year we really have.
If it wasn’t for our commissioners at Manchester NHS Clinical Commissioning Group; the team at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner; the funding panels at the Ministry of Justice; the wonderful group of staff at Simply Health; those behind the scenes at the Arm Trust; and of course, the amazingly loyal and supportive group of incredible individuals at Zurich Community Trust; we wouldn’t have the funds to rent our counselling rooms or group room, pay for our helpline, keep our website and email support going, and employ the best staff team ever (including the first ever male ISVA).
As the founder CEO of Survivors Manchester, I never thought we would be able to do what we do now and if we can do this in 2014 then I am so excited and cannot wait to see what we can achieve in 2015!
Already, I know that 2015 will see us working with NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group to provide therapeutic support to boys and men who live in the area to ensure that they don’t have to suffer in silence. As the newly appointed chair of GMCASE (Greater Manchester Consortium Against Sexual Exploitation), a group set up due to a key recommendation of the Real Voices Report – an independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation by Ann Coffey MP – I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that we support the CSE Project at Unity Radio which will be starting soon (more to follow in 2015); and our Male ISVA service will go from strength to strength following the findings and publication of Lime Cuture’s review of the service.
I will be working hard to talk with key people from the other eight NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Greater Manchester connurbation to try and secure funds to deliver services to male survivors in Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan.
2015 is going to be a hard year and I need to do everything I can to ensure that my team is equipped to deliver the best service we can possibly deliver and I know that we can do this, even in a period of such austerity.
So from me, my team, the board and everyone… wishing you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas, a safe and happy New Year, and here’s to the loudest 2015 ever!
Break the silence, it stops with us!
Chief Executive Officer