Following the successful meeting with Welsh stakeholders in Cardiff last month, the Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Hon. Dame Lowell Goddard was in Colwyn Bay today to meet with Welsh victim and survivor groups and begin the process of ensuring the Inquiry meets the needs of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in Wales. Hosted by the Amethyst North Wales Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), the meeting was also attended by Inquiry Panel member, Professor Sir Malcolm Evans, and Michael May from the Inquiry’s Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel (VSCP) as well as organisations supporting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse from across Wales.
During the course of the meeting, the Inquiry Chair updated stakeholders on the plans for the Inquiry’s office in Wales, including arrangements to support Welsh victims and survivors as they engage with the Inquiry. The meeting also discussed how the Inquiry can most effectively raise public awareness of its work in Wales.
Hon. Dame Lowell Goddard said,
“I would like to thank the Amethyst SARC North Wales for hosting our meeting today and also to pay thanks to all the other key stakeholders from across Wales for taking the time to contribute to this important dialogue with the Inquiry. The importance of these organisations, who work tirelessly to support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse throughout Wales, cannot be underestimated.
“Child sexual abuse over successive generations has left permanent scars on victims and survivors. The Macur review has now been published and as promised, we will carefully study its findings and recommendations.
“I urge any victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, who have suffered because an institution in Wales failed in its duty to protect you, to get in touch with the Inquiry. The Inquiry’s Truth Project allows victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience with us. As well as enabling victims and survivors of abuse to contribute to the work of the Inquiry, it helps us to gain a better understanding of why so many crimes went unreported and undetected for so long. Truth Project private sessions for victims and survivors from Wales will begin later this year and more information is available on our website.”
Michael May from the Inquiry’s Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel accompanied the Chair on her visit and said,
“The Truth Project gives any victim or survivor of sexual abuse who has been failed by an institution the opportunity to have their experience heard and, with their permission, anonymously recorded as part of this Inquiry. Too many have been silenced over too many years and we strongly encourage victims and survivors to take up this opportunity to tell us their truth.
“A key activity of the VSCP has been to design safe processes for participants to engage with the Truth Project. Working alongside representatives from the specialist sexual violence sector in Wales, we will ensure that pathways to and through the Truth Project in Wales reflect the unique needs of Welsh victims and survivors, making the process as supportive and respectful as possible. We are delighted to continue in-person discussions with our Welsh colleagues to develop these processes.”
Development Manager of the Amethyst SARC North Wales, Sarah Staveley said,
“North Wales SARC, Amethyst opened in 2010 offering a confidential service for men, women and children who have been sexually assaulted, either recently or in the past. Together with partner agencies, Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre for North Wales, Stepping Stones and The Survivors Trust, we have been working with the victims and survivors of sexual violence, providing specialist support and counselling to help victims and survivors share their experiences and working together to ensure these services are secured in North Wales.
“It’s an important part of the Inquiry that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have the opportunity to share their experiences - and be able to tell someone what has happened to them in the confidence that they will be believed. It is incredibly difficult for anyone to share an experience of sexual abuse - whether it happened recently or a long time ago.
“We hope that the Truth Project element of the Inquiry will give that opportunity to many more people who have, until now, been living silently under the shadow of child sexual abuse.
“We want to continue to build up awareness across Wales about the importance of the Inquiry and we hope that by continuing the discourse between us, we can help to support more victims and survivors in Wales.”