That Was Some Year 2021!
There is no denying that 2021 has been a tough year with a number of challenges, a bag of mixed emotions, and for some of us, tarred with loss and uncertainty. We mustn’t ignore that and for all of you that have lost a loved one in this pandemic, our thoughts are with you.
Here at We Are Survivors, 2021 has also been a tough year with a number of challenges, but it’s also been a year of opportunity to increase our professional growth and provide more opportunities for you, the key stakeholders, to grow as male survivors.
So we thought we’d end 2021 as we mean to go on in 2022 and tell you what has been happening in our “2021 A Year in Review”
COVID19 dominated much of our year, and at different times caught many of us directly, beginning with the continuing suspension of all of our indoor group activities and the majority of 1:1/face to face therapy. However, our online offer continued to be well received and Jeff and Kieron continued to find new ways to engage online and outdoors, with the introduction of our Health Walks and Photography sessions. We have been bowled over by the positive comments and support we have received for our effort to keep going, particularly when we were better able to re-introduce our physical space into our offer to those we serve.
In the late part of 2021, we finally opened our new Group Space and that meant that we could re-open our Drop In and our original service, The Safe Room. The new space, literally next door to our main centre, provided us with space to develop new hang out and group spaces for those that want to engage, along with the ability to develop and deliver training and workshops. We’re also hopeful that in 2022, we can develop it further to a space that will allow male survivors to do their video interviews here and not in the Police stations. It also provided us with more office space as our team grew.
Whilst we said goodbye to Richard, Jude, Eve and our wonderful Everton, we also said sort of goodbye to our very first female therapist that ever worked with us, Billie, but we were glad she agreed to be one of our Clinical Supervisors and a Special Advisor to our CEO (Duncan); and equally happy that after we said goodbye and thank you so much after 9 years to one of our Trustees, Kate, she was happy to become a Special Advisor to the Board.
As we sort of re-welcomed Billie and Kate, we definitely said hello to Nisaa, Sasha, Riz, Sian, Michael, Lee, Alison, Rob, Bryan, Debbie, Chloe, Karen, Eve, Asling, Urszula and Grahame. We also said hello to two new trustees, in Marcia and Andrew.
Part of the reason we said hello to so many new counsellors/psychotherapists staff was that thanks to NHS England, we were able to launch our prison based talking therapy service, OUT Spoken. The service was (and still is being) installed in all 15 North West prisons and in Cumbria we’ve drafted in The Birchall Trust and in the female prisons we’ve drafted in Greater Manchester Rape Crisis. It’s important to us that we reach out across the sector and work with our peers rather than try and reinvent the wheel. We’ve done the same more recently with Stockport Without Abuse on a project developing better support for male victims of Domestic Violence where Sexual Violence is involved; and with George House Trust to develop better understanding and response to people where chems, sex and consent are in question or having to be navigated, including those from LGBT+ community and those involved with the adult industry.
But it’s not just reaching out across the sector that we’ve done this year, we’ve also reached out across our team and in identifying important ‘themes’ or topics to work on, individual members have then taken the lead for making us better or more informed in that area. A few examples include NJ taking responsibility for leading on Suicide Prevention; Nisaa taking the lead on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion; Sian taking responsibility for our Environmental Impact and Green Investment; and Jamie taking responsibility for Mental Health in the Workplace. Every single member of staff will take a lead on a theme and we will use this as a way of developing our team’s leadership skills. As Duncan (or CEO) says, why wouldn’t we want to build leaders?
The voices of leaders are important as we develop, but the voices of survivors are even more important as our country’s leaders develop policy, processes and laws, and this year we have been involved locally with the Deputy Mayor’s work on Gender Based Violence Strategy, and Victims Survey work; whilst nationally we have ensured that male survivors are not left out of discussions surrounding the VAWG Strategy, the Rape Review, and our Duncan gave evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee: Click Here
It’s important to us that we play our part in developing policy and practice that is male survivor focused and so we were pleased to retain our Lime Culture Male Quality Standards kitemark; were delighted to have been selected to take part in the Pilotlight programme that aims to support us in developing a better organisation for all; were proud to distribute our Annual Report and Financial Statement to the world at large (Click Here); and connect with the University of Manchester where Duncan was awarded an Honorary Fellowship and embarked on a three year project with Professor David Gadd that aims to bring research into our OUT Spoken service in Prison.
In order for us to do all of this, we have a range of stakeholders that all play their part in enabling us.
We want to thank all our funders this year Diocese of Manchester, Diocese of Salford, Global Fund for Children, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Manchester Health Care Commissioning, Ministry of Justice, NHS England, Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, and Zurich Community Trust.
A special thanks to Alison Connelly and the Deputy Mayor, Baroness Beverly Hughes for their support in ensuring male survivors are not forgotten about.
But most of all, we’d like to thank all of the men that utilise our services and for bearing with us through this hard year… we hope we make you proud.
Now…. wait till you see what we have planned for 2022!