The BBC are tackling child sexual exploitation this week in their compelling and hard-hitting new drama ‘Three Girls.’ The series will be shown on consecutive nights from Tuesday 16th May to Thursday 18th May from 9pm to 10pm on BBC1. The three part series is based on the true stories of over a thousand children who were victims/survivors of grooming, sexual exploitation and trafficking in Rochdale between 1997 and 2013. It is made with the involvement and cooperation of the victims/survivors and their families as they wanted other people to hear and understand their experiences. The girls found they were drawn and groomed into a world that they could not escape, despite pleas for help; they were also failed by authorities which were responsible for their protection.
Sadly, children like Ruby, Holly and Amber, the ‘Three Girls’ of the series title are still out there – often traumatised, alone, vulnerable, voiceless and confused. NSPCC figures suggest that 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and 1 in 3 of these never tell anybody.
This must stop. At RSVP our mission statement is ‘a world free from sexual abuse and violence.’ Last year we supported 5,330 children, young adults and adults of all genders and anticipate that this year the number of people needing our services will increase. Our vital services give hope and confidence so people can survive and thrive despite the distressing sexual trauma they have been through.
If you are a survivor of recent or non-recent sexual exploitation or sexual abuse please get in touch, you can find more about how our services can help you. We are here for you and we believe you – http://www.rsvporg.co.uk/services/
Finally, if you have been moved by watching ‘Three Girls’ please consider supporting RSVP and our work, there are many ways you can help us, some of which won’t even cost you a penny. Find out more here: http://www.rsvporg.co.uk/support-us/support-us/
Arts with Hearts will be selling their crafty creations at a number of events over the coming months. Confirmed so far are:
A wide range of craft items, all hand-made by survivors of
sexual violence and abuse and their supporters, will be
available – all at good prices.
Please come along and support us! All proceeds of our stalls go toward the work of RSVP.
When was the last time you got a big cheque? Well, thanks to the generosity of the Birmingham China Town Lions, RSVP has received a big cheque for a big amount – £5, 000!
We’re absolutely delighted that the Lions have been raising money for us at the various events and functions they organise, most recently their 30th Anniversary dinner. Their commitment in supporting our services in Birmingham and Solihull, allows us to inspire people affected by sexual violence and abuse and support them to make meaningful changes and live a future with confidence.
Thanks again China Town Lions – and here’s to another 30 years!
Birmingham City Council have announced plans to remove the Third Sector grants programme, which funds 41 charities in Birmingham that support vulnerable people. This is in order to make a saving of £3.2 million in 2017/18 increasing to £5 million in 2018/19 as part of the savings they have been told to make by central government.
This will mean that from September 2017 RSVP will lose annual funding of £10,625 that has previously contributed to counselling, advocacy and self-help group support and information for adult survivors of sexual violence and abuse.
There is currently a public consultation, where any members of the public can submit their thoughts, suggestions and recommendations. You can access more information, and the survey here https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/people-1/grants-for-the-third-sector-people-directorate-bud
We particularly encourage survivors to contribute as we think it is vital that your voices are heard.
For anyone who uses our services please be reassured, that though this is a loss of income for RSVP, it will not result in the closure of any service. We have worked hard to diversify our income so that we are not wholly reliant on local and central government at a time when there are so many cuts to public spending.
Find out who currently supports our work, and how you can donate or fundraise for us here www.rsvporg.co.uk/support-us
Fancy a nice day out for Bank Holiday Monday? Then head down to the Rowheath Pavillion Vintage and Craft Market on Monday 1st May where Arts with Hearts will be selling their crafty creations to raise money for RSVP.
Look out for their cute range of sock monkeys!
In March we were proud to support this performance, which used music and drama to challenge misconceptions about sexual assault, by producing some flyers and promoting it on social media. We’re delighted that composer Chloe Knibbs, an activist we’re proud to be connected with, has written this blog for us reflecting on the performance, its impact and the power of art in challenging myths and raising awareness about sexual abuse. You can hear Chloe talk more about her work on 27th April, details below.
By Chloe Knibbs:
Just over a month ago, I had a performance of my work – “The Girl Behind the Glass” – a piece that used music and drama to explore sexual assault recovery (for more details, please see: http://thecuspmagazine.com/reviews/girl-behind-glass-review/ ).
The piece was made up of singing, cello music, drama and recordings of my own song material and was performed with great empathy, care and attention by all the performers (Suzie Purkis, Abigail Kelly and Megan Kirwin).
In everyday life, most people are exposed to issues of sexual assault in the 5 minutes it is featured on the news. And yet for this performance, people were staying with these issues for an hour. Naturally, I was terrified – would people just switch off? Would they be disgusted by it? Could they find beauty in the process of sexual assault recovery?
Moreover, sexual assault is often viewed as a one-off alien happening. Often most people would like to pretend these things do not happen. Or point to the ways those who have experienced sexual violence should have handled the situation differently – “Did you actually say no?”. Moreover, depictions in the media often make it seem that those who have experienced such trauma will be permanently broken and forever vulnerable – “Her life will never be the same again”. And so often there is misunderstanding around the process of recovery – “But it happened a year ago, don’t you think you need to move on now?”.
This was why focusing on recovery became integral to the work. I was keen to demonstrate the non-linear – and sadly often traumatic in itself – nature of recovery. Many survivors talk of feeling like that they have been split in two, that one part just remains with the trauma whilst the other part attempts to maintain ordinary everyday life (despite everything feeling anything other than normal). As a result, I decided to make the two singers represent parts of the same person, a visual indication of just how fractured someone may feel in the aftermath of this type of trauma. The piece followed the journey of these two parts of the same person at various points. There was the denial, the withdrawal, the anger, the self-hatred – how the media and responses from others can feed this – the trauma symptoms, and the coming together of these two parts with acceptance and self-compassion.
The performance finished with yellow flower petals falling down to the stage floor. It was a funeral of what had been lost. It was hope. It was pain. And accepting that pain. I sat quietly, wondering what the audience responses would be. Would they have been affected? Would they have been affected too much?
After the performance I gave out feedback forms to all the audience members, with just one question: “How did the piece affect you?” And after plucking up enough courage, it did take five days (!), I read them and was incredibly surprised by the reactions.
It turned out there were a number of survivors in the audience, and all had written of how they could connect with the performance and how helpful – also exhausting – that had been. I was massively touched by this, and I think it is the best feedback I could have ever received. The fact that these individuals came to the performance was incredibly brave, and I am so glad they felt they could share their stories with me.
And there was a second surprise. Many of the other feedback forms included sentiments such as “I will rethink how I respond to these issues in the future”. Or “I have an insight into the difficulties people face when trying to recover from sexual assault”. When writing the piece I had hoped it would open people’s eyes, or make them aware of the negative impact certain comments or responses can have. Nevertheless, I did not expect this level of feedback. As an artist, I am inevitably invested in the power of art – for myself, for others, for communities – but I had underestimated it this time. For people to be prepared to rethink and question the normalised responses to rape and sexual assault, gave me an insight into what changes could be made in the future. Perhaps one of the audience members will meet someone who is dealing with these issues, and they will be the voice of compassion that challenges the judgement and stigma. They will be a voice of hope, for the 85,000 women and the 12,000 men in the UK who experience sexual assault every year (https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php ).
Most importantly, this experience showed me that art can make human what has been dehumanised, stigmatised. That putting these issues in a context other than the news or social media, can give people the perspective to see things differently. To see that the rape and sexual assault is hideous, but that those who experience it are not. That life will be different, but these people are no less human or beautiful.
With thanks to Birmingham Conservatoire, mac birmingham, RSVP Birmingham for supporting the piece.
Also, for more information on this piece, Chloe Knibbs will be talking at Badego’s Short Talks Event on the 27th April: http://badego.org.uk/events/small-talks-april-2017/
We were delighted that on Tuesday 28th March Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, called in to our office while visiting Birmingham. She spent the time with two survivors, listening to their stories with great empathy. The Baroness also heard from Yvonne Langham, Head of ISVA Services, Lisa Monks, ISVA, Margaretta Vauls, Children and Young People’s ISVA, and Lisa Thompson, Chief Executive, about the services we provide and the challenges survivors face throughout police and court processes. If you’d like to learn more about Baroness Newlove’s role visit the Victims’ Commissioner’s website.
A big thank you to all involved with the Infinity Stage Company at University of Birmingham who are donating £986 to RSVP. These are the profits from their award-winning production of the Vagina Monologues, which included some rather special cupcakes. The show was named ‘Best Event’ by the University of Birmingham student’s guild – a well deserved award. Congratulations Infinity!
Infinity Stage Company are a charity student theatre group who have been raising money for RSVP this entire academic year and had already raised over £800 for us from their Christmas Ball, raffles, and other shows. Find put more about them and their upcoming shows at www.facebook.com/InfinityStageCompany
We are recruiting a part-time support worker to work 8 hours a week from our office in central Birmingham. The role will provide vital practical and crisis support to refugees and asylum seekers affected by sexual violence and abuse.
The deadline for applications is Sunday 23rd April 2017, 5pm. Please email applications to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please download and read all the below documents so you have all the information you need to make your application.
If you would like to discuss this vacancy further, please contact Anjella Darcy or Sarah Lafford on 0121 643 0301 / email@example.com
This post has been made possible with support from Henry Smith Charity.
Women and Sexism in the Rock and Metal Industry event is a joint collaboration between the University of Birmingham Rock Society and Women’s Association in light of National Women’s History month. We will be looking at how women are presented in the rock and metal music industry, in terms of female fronted bands or lack of, women behind the scenes and also sexual harassment at gigs.
The event will be a series of short talks and presentations from a number of guest speakers, such as music academics Dr Asya Draganova and Jasmine Shadrack, members of progressive groove metal band Aramantus, current student and writer Rosie Solomon, the Not On Campaign and the organiser and President of the Rock Society, Anna Pitts.
There hasn’t been an event of this kind done before by the Rock Society and as the first female president of the society in a long time I felt responsible to raise awareness of these issues that affect women in the industry. I came up with the idea for this event as I’m very passionate about the topic of women and sexism within the rock and metal genre and I feel that these issues are rarely discussed. Also, I had spoken to a lot of female students who had experienced these issues at gigs and it becomes a norm to just brush off sexual harassment in this environment which is not right.
I’ve chosen to collect donations for RSVP as it is a charity that is directly relevant to helping people who have experienced sexual harassment, assault and rape such as we will be discussing at the event, in the context of music gigs and festivals. Also, the work the charity does is so vital and I thought it was important to raise awareness of the support available and to reduce the stigma around speaking out about the issue of sexual assault which was one of the main reasons for organising the event. Finally, as RSVP is a local charity I wanted the event to give back and help our local community in Birmingham, especially with the recent targeting and sexual assault of female students around the Selly Oak area.
The event will be taking place on Saturday 18th March, 6-8pm in the Rosa Parks room of the Guild of Students at University of Birmingham. Find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1420530174687167/