Telford child sex abuse: New support service opens
A new project hopes to shine a light on those who have survived Child Sexual Exploitation.
The Holly Project celebrated its official opening yesterday, as organisers and staff welcomed members of the community.
The vital service, which forms part of Wellington and District YMCA in Tan Bank, Wellington, offers a free and independent support service for CSE survivors and their families.
Amongst the guests who attended was Holly Archer, after who the project is named.
Holly recently spoke out about her story of how she was abused countless times in the Telford area for four years from the age of 14, without intervention from the authorities.
Organisers say the project was born out of need, and aims to help victims rebuild their lives and offer hope for the future.
Matt Weaver, YMCA chairman, said the team have been working tirelessly for the past six months.
He added: " Over the last couple of years, we've been working with, unbeknown to us the extent, survivors of CSE.
"The community has been very supportive, they don't want to see this kind of thing happen and it shouldn't be happening in the 21st Century, but it does.
"We want to offer help and be there as a beacon of light, it's important to know that if you're a victim of CSE, or you feel that something is just not quite right at the moment, please reach out to the Holly team.
"You won't be judged, you will be supported and there are phenomenal staff members who will work tirelessly to break those barriers down to get you the support that you deserve and need.
"Support is offered whether you're the victim or a family member, you can also get in contact with us."
Telford & Wrekin Council has funded the project as a pilot programme, and hope to continue the partnership.
Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, described the project as an "inspiration".
She added: “I am delighted to celebrate this valuable initiative which gives CSE survivors a safe place to get the support they need.
"Holly has been an inspiration to our community, she has worked with survivors, the YMCA, and volunteers, all coming together to help the community move forward.
“The Holly Project is an inspiration to us all and a model I hope to see rolled out in other towns and cities affected by CSE. Well done Holly and well done Telford.”
Workers at The Holly Project are all survivors of CSE.
A member of staff explained that everyone is referred to as 'Holly' to preserve their anonymity and to ensure safety.
She added: "We run peer support one to one, we'll also offer group support if somebody just wants to come in and speak in a safe place.
"Everybody who works at The Holly Project has been a survivor themselves, so we know and we understand what each person is going through. We also recognise where they need help and will adapt to help them in whatever way they need."
The YMCA has been part of the local community for 159 years, and is therefore on of the oldest young person charities.
For more information about the project call 01952 385385.