Charity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse says it will ‘help more victims than ever’

A charity for childhood sexual abuse victims and survivors is going from strength to strength with the launch of a new base in Mansfield.

By Isabel Dunmore
Tuesday, 6th May 2014, 1:10 pm
More than 50 people turned out for the branch opening
More than 50 people turned out for the branch opening

Thanks to the courage of three women, the charity was set up following their individual battles with childhood sexual abuse.

Founders Jacqui Lewis, Ezzie Bainbridge and Hannah Harris, launched the charity in 1998 as a self help group.

Almost 16 years later and S.H.E UK (Supporting, Healing and Educating) has exploded from three women meeting over coffee to more than 500 members.

One of the two new therapy rooms named after founder Jacqui and in remembrance of Jodie, a member who committed suicide

Celebrating its expansion from Newark to Mansfield, the launch on 3rd May saw the opening of its fifth base in Nottinghamshire.

Chief executive, Nicci Robinson, now wants to reach out to more members than ever.

“Part of the reason we moved here was because of the building’s massive potential for expansion.

“We currently help over 500 survivors of these heinous crimes, and referrals are ever increasing,” She said.

Earlier this year the charity supported Michelle Noble, from Sutton.

Ms Noble broke her anonymity to speak out and appeal for her case, alleging a police officer raped her at 14, to be reopened.

This is just one example of S.H.E UK’s work as it moves to meet demand for its services to Byron Street, Mansfield.

Nicci joined S.H.E UK in July. She said it is an exciting time for the charity with hopes to open another base in Nottingham in the summer and expand its reach internationally through the use of digital media.

One of the S.H.E UK offices before refurbishment

“In 2001, we became a registered charity after the demand exploded.

“We went from three to something like 500. Now, we are concentrating on growing the charity and helping more people.

“We have always had a drop-in in Mansfield but we have bigger plans.”

With funding from The Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire and Mansfield Lions, a £3,150 donation has helped the charity get on its feet and create two new therapy rooms in its new premises.

It is currently finishing creative work spaces and a kitchen.

But donations are now needed to further renovate the Byron Street building and build a children’s room and furnish it with curtains, furniture and craft materials.

Nicci added: “We don’t just need donations, we also need volunteers and their time to help us carry out the work to help us effectively help our members.

“I want to say a massive thank you to those who have supported us so far and also Mansfield Van Hire who have provided us with a van free of charge for the big move.

“Vicky Kennedy, a local fitness instructor, held a Zumbathon for us to raise nearly £710 for our relocation.”

As well as fund raising to continue its work, one of the charity’s main aims is to build trust and a safe environment for survivors to share their story.

Nicci believes that what sets S.H.E UK apart is its ability to offer a holistic approach.

At a time when 115,000 women and 76,000 men are affected by some form of sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire, S.H.E UK is needed more than ever.

Nicci said: “If you say to a survivor ‘you have 24 weeks of counselling starting from now’, some might take three or four weeks just to get their name out, you can’t put a timescale on dealing with these things.

“S.H.E UK is unique across Nottinghamshire in that it offers long term counselling to survivors.

“We look at the person as a whole rather than just what is going on in their head. We look at their social life, family life, we support everything.

“We will even deal with housing issues and court proceedings.”

The charity is also making bold waves in offering members art workshops as a way of therapy.

Hanging in the reception of the charity is artwork completed by one of its members representing her feelings of childhood sexual abuse.

“Creative art therapy helps get negative emotions out in a positive way. The artwork can sometimes be very dark but it shows progression,” Nicci says.

And with childhood sexual abuse a prevalent issue in the media, S.H.E UK hopes to start extending its services to child victims sooner.

“We want to try and get in at the point of abuse rather than years later.

“If help is offered sooner it can help reduce the likelihood of survivors self harming, becoming depressed and severe anxiety setting in.”

If you have experienced childhood sexual abuse and would like to seek help get in touch with S.H.E UK by calling 01636 611107 or email [email protected]