The woman who blew the whistle on the Rotherham abuse scandal has been awarded an MBE.
Youth worker Jayne Senior said it was ‘bittersweet’ to be given the honour for services to child protection in Rotherham after she collaborated with Times journalist Andrew Norfolk to bring the widespread sexual exploitation of children in the town to light following years of inaction by the authorities.
Mrs Senior said: “I’m pleased and honoured and really grateful but I wish it was for something else.
“I hope I can use it to try and continue raising awareness about these issues, which are happening all over the place.
“I didn’t do this for an accolade or any award. But I suppose it is a vindication that not only myself but the girls were telling the truth about what was happening.
“Now the world knows the truth.”
Mrs Senior worked for the Risky Business youth project in Rotherham during the period in which girls in the town were being groomed, raped, trafficked, and forced into prostitution on a huge scale.
Risky Business repeatedly tried to alert authorities to what was happening but was largely ignored and eventually closed down.
Mrs Senior eventually collaborated with Andrew Norfolk of The Times, and started a chain of events which led to the Jay Report in 2014.
The report shocked the nation when it revealed more than 1,400 children were subjected to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 and ignored by police and social services.
Further vindication of Mrs Senior’s actions came with the hard-hitting Casey Report into Rotherham Council.
Then, earlier this year, a gang led by three brothers was jailed for a total of more than 100 years for crimes against children in the town.
These convictions came as a huge new investigation into what happened in Rotherham began to take shape led by the National Crime Agency.
The agency will soon have more than 100 officers working in the town and is looking at hundreds of suspects.
Mrs Senior said: “In two years I’ve gone from being investigated and being told I’m making things up, lying and exaggerating, to Alexis Jay’s report vindicating me and to Louise Casey’s report giving me my reputation back.
“It’s recognition that not only were we always telling the truth but, also, that the children were always telling the truth.”
Mrs Senior said she also wanted to stress the work of all the staff who worked with her at Risky Business in very difficult circumstances.
She said: “I was just a youth worker with a law degree that cared about kids.
“That was it. That was me. If it wasn’t good enough for my kids, it wasn’t good enough for those I was working with.”
Mrs Senior published a book earlier this year detailing her battle to expose the truth about Rotherham.
She now manages the Swinton Lock Activity Centre which works with vulnerable people in South Yorkshire, including child sexual exploitation survivors.
Also awarded in the honours was Louise Casey, director general of the Department for Communities and Local Government, was made a dame. Ms Casey published a damning report on Rotherham Council’s response to the child sexual exploitation scandal which resulted in the resignation of the entire council cabinet and Government commissioners being brought in to run the local authority.