Survivors ‘not represented’ in Rotherham post child sexual exploitation support report says opposition councillor

Councillors have been criticised for not speaking to survivors for a report about the post child sexual exploitation (CSE) support that is offered in Rotherham.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 10:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 11:20 am

A sub-group, made up of councillors Victoria Cusworth, Maggi Clark and Jenny Andrews met with senior officers, the NHS trauma and resilience service and providers of commissioned services in Rotherham, to understand what support services are offered.

Councillors also met with officers from five other councils; Durham County Council; Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council; Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council; Sunderland Council; and Telford and Wrekin Council, in a bid to find out how each authority manages its services for survivors.

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The sub-group was criticised for not meeting with survivors as part of their research.

Following the research, councillors note in a report that ‘there is a comprehensive level of post-abuse support for adult survivors of CSE in Rotherham’.

“The breath of the service offer in Rotherham, and its trauma informed approach, was held to be an exemplar of good practice by many of the authorities we spoke to,” states the report, which was presented to the improving lives select commission on December 21.

The report recommends that post-CSE services are transferred to the adult social care, housing and public health directorate, from the Children and Young People’s department, to ‘enable the greater integration and coordination of support pathways that are available to adult victims of trauma as children’.

It also recommends that survivors’ voices are captured ‘to inform future reviews of post abuse services’, and that consideration is given to the language used ‘to ensure that it is positive and inclusive of the needs of those accessing services’.

The report also recommends that annual training is offered to councillors, and the report, and councillors are given a ‘steer’ on activity within the service.

However, during the meeting, the sub-group was criticised for not meeting with survivors as part of their research.

Councillor Emily Barley, leader of the Rotherham Conservatives told the meeting: “When I read the report that was my first thought.

“Not only that you’ve not spoken to survivors but actually they’re not represented in this report.

“I’m a bit concerned about that because I think if we’re evaluating the quality and breadth and value of the services we’ve got, the first people we should speak to are survivors.”

Councillor Victoria Cusworth told the meeting it would be ‘wholly inappropriate’ for elected councillors, who are not experts in working with people who have survived trauma, to have met with survivors for the report.

“I don’t think it would have been appropriate for us as elected members to speak to survivors about their experience of services in Rotherham directly because of the trauma trigger that that might incur,” said Coun Cusworth.

“We’ve spoken to providers of services, who are speaking to those survivors, but those people are trained and know how to sensitively discuss things, and at the right time.

“For me, it would be wholly inappropriate for us as elected members, because we’re not experts in working with people that have experienced that level of trauma.

Coun Clarke added: “This review is not about CSE, rather it’s about the provision of support, after disclosure.

“Survivors are not a homogeneous group, there’s not a one size fits all solution.”

If you have been affected by the subject of this article, please contact the Rotherham Abuse Counselling service on: 01709 835482 or at [email protected]

Rape Crisis national helpline: 0808 802 9999