Independent Sexual Violence Advisor & Advocacy Manager
Thematic Lead: Drugs & Alcohol Misuse
Born and raised in North Manchester, in one way or another, Gayna’s work has always involved supporting individuals with a range of vulnerabilities and complex needs.
Experienced in various roles and settings within Social Care, including Residential & Community Mental health, Homeless Residential Support, Substance Recovery and Engagement and Community Detox.
Why did you decide to work for We Are Survivors?
I first met Duncan many years ago as a volunteer on the needle exchange at Lifeline. Duncan was my mentor initially and later my line manager when applied for a paid position as a community detox worker.
While working with Duncan I learned about his vision for We Are Survivors and gained knowledge about male sexual violence, exploitation and the lasting impact on male Survivors.
In 2015 I was offered my first position as Outreach & Engagement Worker on the ‘Safer Streets Manchester’ Child Sexual Exploitation project. Then in January 2017 a role was created with a need to expand the ISVA service, I already loved working for We Are Survivors, this was another exciting opportunity to grow within the organisation, so off I went and completed my ISVA training.
Fast forward to 2021 , I was offered the position of Lead ISVA! Another opportunity to grow, learn and continue to make a difference.
The role obviously comes with greater responsibility and new challenges, but I’m ready and excited for the future.
As a We Are Survivors ISVA, we represent , support and advocate for the men we work with on various levels , from direct one to one support to ensuring their voices are heard, by working closely with our partner agencies and stakeholders , allowing us to play an instrumental part in shaping procedure and informing policy where it matters.
Not everybody gets to work for an organisation that they can honestly say they are really very proud to be a part of.
What would you like to see We Are Survivors do in Manchester?
In my previous bio, I spoke about my hopes for extending our ISVA service to offer support to male survivors in prison.
I’m proud to say , this has been achieved . Serving a custodial sentence is no longer a barrier to reporting !
Our ISVA team are now present in several prisons across the Northwest.
So what next?
Continue to break down barriers , destroy myths and stereotypes and make We Are Survivors even more visible and even more accessible , to reach the men who still don’t know we’re here and the men that do know but feel unable to access us for various reasons.
Do you have a message for Greater Manchester residents?
I have two messages.
The men we support are a true inspiration. The strength and determination these men have is incredible. The feedback we receive from our clients is evidence that the work we do is valuable.
We have a brilliant , dedicated , specialist team who are passionate about supporting male survivors. It’s never too late to seek support, we know it’s difficult, but please reach out, we’re here.
If you’ve suffered sexual violence, telling anyone may feel impossible, so considering reporting to the police can be very frightening.
There is no right or wrong, no should or shouldn’t, when it comes to reporting , the choice is yours.
Our ISVA team can give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. No pressure or judgement – we will support you whether you decide to report or not.
What’s your favourite thing about Manchester?
It’s got to be … My true sense of belonging, walking down the street and feeling right at home…the community spirit, the energy and realness of Manchester and its people. And anyone one who knows me will know, I love a propa Manc accent !