The Last Post 2017

As we fast hurtle toward a new year that is 2018 I am reminded of all the events of the last year. The pitfalls and the highs because I cannot say it has been a wonderful year though there have been many highlights there have been the low points too. Voicing CSA started the year with the death of one of the Directors of VCSA namely, Nigel Thompson.

Marise Thomas became the new Director shortly before the passing of Nigel and we continued the work that I (Phillip Lafferty) had started with Nigel.

Marise over the course of the year has proven herself to be an excellent decision made by me and Nigel to invite her in as a Director and has been an immense support both to me (personally and publicly) and VCSA.

We have had many meetings this year again and has proven to show that working together can achieve a great deal. There have been many speakers over the last year who can be seen in our news items on the website. Each and every speaker this year has proven to be a voice that needs to be heard, each and every speaker has the thanks of Voicing CSA for the difficulty that it takes to overcome to speak in public and to be recorded doing so. Over the past few years we know there are thousands of survivors who have seen those recordings and received messages about how it has helped them and how it gave some strength to carry on and even inspired victims and survivors to engage with the Independent Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse.

It is for those survivors that we have helped that encourages us to continue into 2018 with more meetings but also other meetings, working with other survivor groups and individuals to keep making a difference. There is not one survivor or victim as an individual or as a lone group that will have all the answers and the way forward, ourselves included but neither will we be cornered and find ourselves down a thin avenue.

We are here to help and give voice to all victims and survivors and that is how we will continue into 2018.

Many know that I work in a full time job as a courier driver, employment for me is a necessity, shortly after my birthday in November the ante is racked up and that has taken a lot of my time and it has been distressing to say the least and it does feel like I was pulled back. I have remained quiet at times and not been as responsive not just because from November I have no option but to work six days a week and up to 12 or 13 hours a day and still try to remain focussed on Voicing CSA, it is here that I would like to thank Marise Thomas for her professional support and helped pull me through some of the darkest days I have experienced. I didn’t speak out publicly about it but the last six weeks have taken their toll on me, I am on the mend and looking forward to the challenges of 2018.

This year brought us #TheMouse with thanks to Chris Harper, Slurpy Studios and The Chocolate Factory and many more organisations and individuals who gave their time and expertise to make it happen and proving it to be successful and being used in sectors of the NHS, Police and other institutions/organisations to raise awareness and as a tool for education. It didn’t bring us more funding from our funding application but further attempts will be followed up in the New Year to make more animation films happen.

I would like to thank everyone who has spoken at one of our meetings this last year, our Patrons, those individuals who make donations to us (we continue to respect the wishes to remain anonymous) we would like to thank the venues that have hosted our meetings and made them happen and the countless organisations that have worked alongside Voicing CSA and lastly but not least I would like to thank the victims, survivors and supporters who have attended our meetings around the country.

I wanted to share something that embodied what Voicing CSA is about and what we do and I was mindful of a talk given by one speaker at one of our earliest meetings in Nottingham her name is Sheila Norton and I listened to her speaking again and it struck me that I should share that again. It is one of our early recordings and there is some background noise that can be annoying but i hope that you will watch Sheila and more importantly listen to what she speaks about. I wish you all a Happy New Year and may it bring you all that you work for in 2018.

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