Young survivors of sexual abuse win accolade
Each year, Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) celebrates the best campaigns and campaigners – whether working locally or nationally, and from individuals and community groups to people working in large organisations. Zino Onokaye, project assistant at On Road Media and one of this year's judges, said: "I have a special place in my heart for the children and young people who are fighting to make their communities better and more inclusive. It’s a gentle reminder that it’s never too early, or too late, to advocate for change, and that if other young people are even a little like the ones in this year’s category then our society is likely to look 10 times better in the future."
The SMK Campaigner Awards bring the campaign community together to champion and celebrate campaigning, demonstrating its value and acknowledging success.
Last night (30 September), the REAL. Group was named joint winners of the Young Person’s Award at the Sheila McKechnie National Campaigner Awards. The judges awarded the REAL. Group the top prize along with Let’s Get Active, a group of 12 deaf pupils from Howes Primary School who tackled the barriers deaf children faced accessing sports and leisure facilities in Coventry.
You can view the award ceremony here
The participants in the REAL. Conference, attended a young persons’ mental health conference with other agencies and felt that they did not present young peoples’ voices. They wanted to change that.
As young survivors of sexual abuse, they witnessed – first hand – how unprepared statutory services are in dealing with it. They decided to do something about it and voice the changes they feel are necessary so future victims can have a much better process in dealing with abuse.This campaign was a huge success in portraying the message they wanted to share: “Social services need to change their ways in dealing with sexual abuse cases”.
A young person said "Our conference was named REAL. – with each letter representing a personal quality that needed to be developed within the different job roles professionals have in the social service sector. People do care about this issue and people want to see a change – which was why we all wanted to be involved with this project in the first place”.
SMK said "It was an amazing achievement for survivors to open up with other people that have experienced the same traumatic things. It has also as made them feel more confident. They have encouraged adults of all ages and job statuses to have a different mindset on these sensitive subjects".
The campaign was based around Essex – this is a national problem and the message needs to now spread across the UK. They hope their award will help spread this message that young survivors’ voices need to be heard. For more information visit here https://smk.org.uk/awards_nominations/real-group/