Fixers has worked with a number of young people who have wanted to speak out about their powerful personal experiences of child sexual exploitation – including abuse, coercion and grooming. Seventeen of them joined forces in London on April 26, 2017 to speak directly to key decision-makers and professionals.
Given a unique platform to share their devastating experiences and get their voices heard by people who can make a difference, they travelled from across the UK to attend the emotional event. Together they devised a set of proposals setting out what they believe needs to be done to make childhood safer and society more responsive for future generations.
Although they spoke openly to the invited audience, almost all chose to remain anonymous to the wider public - for personal or legal reasons - and we have protected their identities in these images, which give a flavour of the day.
Fixers has worked with many young people who have experienced child sexual abuse and exploitation. A number of them have made compelling films to raise awareness of these issues and to encourage greater understanding. Some of these brilliant films were shown at the event.
You can view Fixers CSE films here, or by clicking on the image to the right.
To find out more about the range of Fixers campaigns on these subjects, click here.
Following morning workshops to formulate the Fixers’ recommendations, they took part in a ‘Question Time’- style debate. Six of the young people formed an 'expert' panel in front of an invited audience of around 70 leading health, education and social support professionals, as well as the police and other law enforcement agencies.
The event focused on three key areas – the reactions of family and friends, their treatment by professionals, and how their mental and physical health has been affected. The Fixers presented their proposals and then answered questions.They shared some honest, and sometimes harrowing, insights into childhood sexual abuse, coercion, grooming and sexting. There was also powerful personal testimony from young people in the audience.
The debate was hosted by TV personality Karen Danczuk (left) and long-term Fixer Siobhan Pyburn (right), who are both survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Karen, who was raped by her brother, is a patron of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. She waived her right to anonymity following the sentencing of Michael Burke in December 2016. He was jailed for 15 years for a series of sex attacks on his sister and two other victims over an 18-year period. The former local councillor who has appeared on TV shows including Bear Gryll’s Celebrity Island says she hopes to use her media profile to help remove the 'stigma' suffered by abuse victims.
For more information about Siobhan Pyburn, click here.
Fixing Child Sexual Exploitation is supported by Wellcome Trust.
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