Today in Telford, the local MP, Lucy Allan attended the official launch of a new Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) survivor service, The Holly Project.
The Holly Project is an independent drop in service in Telford that is run by survivors of CSE, including Holly Archer, after whom the project has been named. Holly from Telford has spoken out about her experiences as a victim of CSE. She was groomed and exploited over four years from the age of 14, without intervention from the authorities.
The Holly Project will offer survivors of CSE a brighter, safer and more fulfilled future.
It has been set up in response to the needs of survivors and their families. It offers a safe place to get support and advice from people who really understand the trauma and lasting impact of CSE.
Experts estimate there could be up to 1,000 victims of grooming or childhood sexual abuse in the Telford over the past four decades.
In response to a two year campaign led by Holly Archer and backed by local MP, Lucy Allan, Telford & Wrekin Council agreed in April 2018 to commission an independent inquiry into CSE in Telford, despite previously stating that no inquiry was necessary. A chair to lead this inquiry has yet to be appointed.
Lucy Allan said:
“I am delighted to celebrate this valuable initiative which gives CSE survivors a safe place to get the support they need. Holly has been an inspiration to our community, she has worked with survivors, the YMCA, and volunteers, all coming together to help the community move forward.
“I am pleased that the Council have commissioned an independent inquiry into CSE, although I remain concerned that an Independent Chair has still not been appointed and the inquiry has not yet got underway.
“We continue to see new CSE cases coming to light locally. Just last week, it emerged that three men appeared in court charged with a series of CSE offences committed in Telford in 2016. The offences are alleged to have taken place shortly before the authorities locally said that no investigation into child sexual exploitation in the area was necessary.
“I once again urge the Council to ensure a Chair is appointed as a matter of urgency so that the inquiry can begin and survivors can get the answers and justice they deserve.
“The Holly Project is an inspiration to us all and a model I hope to see rolled out in other towns and cities affected by CSE. Well done Holly and well done Telford.”
A spokesperson from the Holly Project said:
“The Holly Project is working alongside YMCA Wellington and is being funded by Telford and Wrekin Council to provide a safe place for Child Sexual Exploitation survivors and their families.
“The Holly project will provide support and advice and aims to help survivors rebuild their lives, offering hope for the future.
“Lucy Allan has played a key role in publicly campaigning alongside local survivors of CSE and their families which will help to make positive changes for the future and enable victims to seek help and support along their life long journey of recovery.”