Open Secret won £2000 Good Neighbour Funding during our 2016 campaign.
What is Open Secret Works?
Open Secret works with survivors of childhood abuse and trauma of all ages, offering counselling, advocacy, befriending, art therapy, play therapy, EMDR and group support. Specialist services are available for children and families, young people at risk of exploitation or abuse, prisoners and people abused in care.
The project brings together survivors in a supportive environment, both to talk about their experiences and to have fun and respite. Open Secret will offer the chance for survivors to have peer support by attending groups including art groups, writing groups, gardening group and drop-in sessions.
The groups will have support from workers if they need it and will have access to facilitators who have a background in art therapy or art and writing, in addition to a service user with gardening skills.
Survivors accessing Open Secret have significant issues with anxiety and depression and many feel very isolated. Enabling them to meet others and to be involved in fun activities makes a real difference to those feelings with an increase in self-esteem and a boost to health. This funding would enable us to put on a number of groups throughout the year to give a real choice to survivors.
1 in 4 individuals will have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse by the time they reach 18, according to the World Health Organisation. We provide confidential, community-based support to survivors of childhood abuse, offering therapeutic support, befriending, group work and advocacy support.
Why should Open Secret receive a donation from the Good Neighbour programme?
The service has funding for counselling services but at a recent development day attended by Board, staff, volunteers and, more importantly, service users spotlighted that users benefit a great deal from the chance to meet other survivors in a more relaxed and fun way to take part in activities or even just talk. They asked for more groups, peer support and drop-in opportunities. We previously held a gardening group and a writing group and these were very successful in forming friendships, which reduced isolation. Many on the groups went on to volunteer. Funding cuts stopped Open Secret running groups and this is a real gap for survivors. They offer a real difference for survivors and have results where survivors tell relayed how the project has saved lives and made liquality better. This funding would enable Open Secret to offer something really beneficial for survivors.
Through all the media coverage of high profile child abuse cases, the charity sector is facing an ever increasing flow of referrals for their support at a time when statutory services are reducing resources to voluntary organisations. Many people are contacting the project at a time of crisis in their life, often with suicidal thoughts so it is crucial that Open Secret keep their waiting lists as short as possible. A donation from the Good Neighbour programme could enable them to drastically reduce waiting times for survivors to gain specialist support at the time they most need it.
What will Open Secret use the money for?
Open Secret employ on a sessional basis an art therapist or artist, writing specialist (a published author), gardening group helper and some staff time to support the groups if anyone was to need additional help. The funding would also enable them to purchase materials to be used.
The money will be used to provide a support group for adult survivors to help further reduce their sense of isolation, offering a further level of support beyond their individual support. Survivors have fed back that the opportunity to share experiences with others adds another level to their recovery journey and is extremely important to empower them to increase their self esteem and form new relationships out with those of a therapeutic relationship.