By the Maggie Oliver Foundation
The Maggie Oliver Foundation’s (TMOF) vision is to create a society where survivors and those at risk of childhood sexual abuse are empowered to live fulfilled and successful lives, and where every survivor is treated with dignity, respect and as an equal and valued member of society. Its aim is to help survivors to transform the pain of their abuse into power, by being supported to identify their strengths, adopt constructive coping strategies, increase self-confidence, and create and embrace positive life chances.
We work alongside adult survivors of all forms of child sexual abuse (CSA), including child sexual exploitation, abuse by grooming gangs, sex trafficking, familial sexual abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). We also address the coercive control and violence which inevitably runs alongside sexual abuse.
Launched in 2019, one of our first projects was to open a pilot Maggie Oliver Centre in Rochdale, providing a holistic range of support services to survivors in person. This centre was closed as a result of Covid-19 and resources diverted into establishing remote services, including our “Pain into Power” phoneline. This has enabled us to provide support to survivors nationally.
Through this service, each survivor is matched with a trained volunteer who provides 1:1 telephone support throughout their engagement. This ensures that individuals do not have to repeat traumatic events and enables the formation of a trusting relationship. Such safe attachments have been shown to be a vital part of recovery from trauma, especially that experienced in childhood. There are no exclusion criteria, so volunteers often work alongside those who have been unable to access support elsewhere, a common theme among survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA). The most important thing volunteers do is listen, believe, respect. This underpins survivors’ journeys towards recovery (CSA Centre), they feel connected and less isolated. Where appropriate, survivors are signposted to a range of external services including physical and mental health, legal, housing, finance, training, careers, holistic well-being services, specialist counsellors and therapists.
Our primary criteria in recruiting volunteers is building a caring, supportive, and understanding team, sharing our values and fierce determination to make a real difference in the lives of survivors of CSA. We believe that mutual support and visible thriving of fellow survivors can be a catalyst for change. Approximately 60% of our current team are survivors. A key factor in survivors learning to thrive is them witnessing the positive impact of healing of those around them.
Volunteers are trained in safeguarding, trauma-informed practices and The Maggie Oliver Foundation’s policies and procedures. They have regular in-house supervision and access to an external counselling service.
We want to support survivors to move forward positively with their lives. We work on an eight-week cycle where a survivor will receive eight weeks of calls and then will have eight weeks off. Should a survivor need any urgent support they have the facility to reach out to TMOF. If the survivor needs to reconvene the calls after the eight-week break they can do and will speak to the same volunteer.
Since inception, TMOF has supported more than 2000 survivors. In a recent survey of survivors who have accessed our Pain into Power helpline, 90% of respondents reported an improved sense of wellbeing. We plan to work with survivors to develop a bespoke evaluation model, focusing on areas they tell us are most important and relevant to them.
- “I had my call with……yesterday, I cannot thank you all enough. What an incredible gift Maggie and her team are giving. I feel such a relief to have someone to talk to who truly understands all the nuances of what happened to me and am so grateful.” – a survivor
- “Please pass on my thanks to Maggie for her incredible gift and work and to you for being so consistent and not forgetting about me, all these things are so imperative when helping someone with my history and I cannot thank you enough.” – a survivor
- “The service The Foundation is providing is something as a survivor I have been looking for, I have phoned many phone lines and had to explain myself repeatedly. I then stop calling.
This service is personal and something I feel many survivors will want.” – a survivor
- “I feel I have built up a good rapport with the volunteer. He shows me great empathy and someone that has experienced what I have, makes the understanding and the conversations easier to flow. He understands my thoughts and feeling and I have been feeling better in myself recently since starting the calls but when you have just gone through that self- evaluation it’s made me realise that the calls are really working.” – a survivor
- “The One-to-One support is brilliant, and I know many survivors will applaud your system.” – a survivor