Acts Fast charity say they’ve seen a 50% rise in support needed.
The third lockdown is putting more pressure on families, according to a Dorset Charity. Acts Fast supports non-abusive parents after a child discloses sexual abuse. This week is Sexual Violence Awareness week.
The charity is providing 50% more support to parents than it did during the first lockdown.
Mandy Gulliver is the charity’s CEO. She said:
“The trauma that we’re seeing is not one that we’ve seen before it seems to be extremely impacted, really overwhelming for them. Because there is no outlet because there are no other activities, there’s no schooling, sitting with the emotion within the family is just off the scale and people are really, really suffering.”
Mandy says families who would ordinarily come for support one every month are now coming every two weeks.
“Our support compared to the last lockdown, we’re up by 50% of the support that people are requiring. So, the impact on the whole family’s mental health is really quite scary and off the scale.”
The charity wants to encourage more people to talk appropriately with their children about sexual abuse.
“It is very difficult to talk about this subject and I understand that. People don’t want to think this is happening.
“Without talking about it and raising this awareness that this is actually happening, we’re actually doing an injustice to our children.”
Acts Fast were delighted to have received a very welcomed visit from David Sidwick (PCC candidate for Dorset) and Michael Tomlinson (MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole) back in October 2020 to highlight the charities services to members of the community.
Mandy Gulliver (Acts Fast CEO) thoroughly welcomed sharing the charities passion and vision to help support families suffering with the impacts of child sexual abuse. She spoke with both David and Michael about how the charity exists solely on the support of generous benefactors and how her and the team were so grateful for the support they receive.
Michael and David joined teams for the socially distanced visit, so that they could discover more about what is a rarely discussed topic in most of our society. They learnt about the charities mission to not only support families impacted by this horrific crime, but how they also work with government and other charitable organisations to help bring about much needed change in the legal and family court proceedings.
During 2020 Acts Fast has continued to support hundreds of families in the Dorset area and saw the charity provided further support to approximately 75 new referrals who were now living with the impacts of child sexual abuse in their family. Acts Fast works closely with some local policing departments who refer families to them, as well as if they encounter a family who has been impacted by the devastating influences of such child abuse.
Mandy Gulliver shared a little about the visit:
“It isn’t an easy topic to think about, and of course it’s easier to brush it under the rug, but unless families are given really good quality support, the chances are that their mental health and wellbeing will take a significant nose-dive. We know that when families are just left on their own to deal with the knowledge that one of their children has been sexually abused, it is like the whole world is pulled out from under them. Then, because of the very sensitive and horrific nature of the crime, nobody wants to openly talk about it. There is a real shame and guilt factor that the non-abusive family members often experience because they feel they should have known what was happening and done something to stop it. The feelings of guilt are simply horrifically overwhelming, and this understandably has a life changing impact on a person’s mental health.
We exist to provide the right sort of support at the right time, from being a very understanding ear listening in times of need, to providing trauma support and therapeutic counselling. We have a small but wonderful team of qualified volunteers and staff who provide this support, and it has been great to share about our vision with David and Michael today. We know it is through working with police and community leaders that as a society, we can provide better support and structure to help those who are affected by this issue.”
“Absolute pleasure to have been able to meet with Acts Fast and Michael Tomlinson MP.
Acts Fast and Mandy Gulliver I have met before and been impressed by the work that they do and their need is for greater visibility – they are there, they care and want to help. Michael and I discussed ways that we could help with that noise. This charity reaches across all of Dorset and could help many more families.”
Mandy and the Acts Fast team continue to support families in need when a child’s sexual abuse is disclosed, so that ultimately the trajectory of future generations will be changed by breaking the cycles of abuse. Acts Fast is free at the point of access, so that those who need the support can get it, no matter what. This excellent service is not free to run however, so Acts Fast rely on gifts and donations every year to make their support possible. If you would like to provide your own support or perhaps are a business looking to get involved, please contact Mandy and the team today to discuss the next steps.
Dorset Community Fund (DCF) has generously donated a £2,000 grant to Acts Fast to enable operational adaptations to help meet the increased demand that the charity has experienced as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acts Fast are a specialised care charity that provides professional therapeutic support to families who have experienced the significant trauma of a family member experiencing child sexual abuse. The trauma can have a damaging and multiplying effect as not only does the child experience the horrific consequence of the abuse, but the protective family around that child are impacted by the shockwaves when they find out.
Often feelings of guilt, significant emotional trauma and the pain of such betrayal can cause a spiral of emotions to be felt, which for many is understandably so overwhelming. Acts Fast have existed in Dorset for about 7 years now, to help re-address the lack of support provided in both the initial crises and the stabilising, healing and moving forwards after a disclosure. It is through the support of Acts Fast that hundreds of Dorset residents have been able to come to terms with the impact of child abuse on their family and are now finding ways to effectively move forwards.
Other charities such as Parents Protect provide fantastic advocacy and resources to help when approaching this difficult topic, helpfully explained in their video here. Acts Fast is different because it provides the specialist post disclosure family support that others simply don’t or can’t yet provide.
Often in situations where child abuse has occurred, the protective parent is left with feelings of failure and guilt for not being aware that the abuse was going on. This has a significant impact on a caring parents mental health because everything in their world has suddenly taken a catastrophic turn. Acts Fast support the parent so that they can be a in a strong enough place to help provide wrap around care for their child, who is likely to need extra support for years to come. By helping the protective parent and family members, Acts Fats can help provide that consistent care indirectly to the affected child(ren).
This is an important and distinctive element in the charity’s strategy because although of course the child needs specialist direct care and support, the parents and families around that child are often left not knowing which way to turn. Acts Fast are then able to help hold and support the family by providing a whole range of specialist care, from emotional health tools, to explaining trauma models which helps to demonstrate the impact such trauma has on the mind and body. By providing this sort of care and specialist resources, families are better equipped for supporting their child both immediately and into the future.
The Dorset Community Foundation has given a really welcomed boost to the charity by helping strengthen its resources at a time when it is experiencing unparalleled demand in Dorset. Mandy Gulliver CEO of the charity wanted to share:
“It has been such a unique time for peoples mental health over the last year or so, and we have directly seen this in the demand for our support services. We have seen a 50% increase in the frequency of client support and the time we spend supporting each person has increased on average by 35 minutes. The necessity and intensity of demand has been like nothing we have seen before, and we want to be there to support every single family who needs our help.
This much needed additional care does mean however that our operational resources have been stretched further, but thanks to the support from DCF (and others of course) we have been able to help families through such a difficult time. As a charity we rely solely on the generous gifts of organisations such as the DCF, so we really do thank them for their help – they are truly helping support families here in Dorset.”
Acts Fast continue to search for and welcome further support as demand for their services is increasing through this pandemic. For more information about the work and support of Acts Fast, please visit their website or get in contact below.
Acts Fast are delighted to share with us that they have just been awarded the National Lottery Community Fund to keep supporting lives who have been impacted by child sexual abuse. It might not be an easy topic of conversation, but supporting families effected by child sexual abuse is often chronically under invested and often widely misunderstood in society. As many as 1 in 4 adults have themselves experienced some form of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday (oneinfour.org.uk) so there is increasingly a great need for Acts Fast specialist form of support.
The charity has been awarded nearly £312,000 to continue their expanding role in supporting some of the forgotten members of our society who have experienced this major traumatic life event.
When a family member discovers that a child in their care has been victim to child sexual abuse, the “bomb” goes off in their world. A life where they thought their child was safe is now suddenly home to one of the most shockingly devastating events their child could go through. There are often feelings of guilt, shame and failing their child.
Acts Fast is passionate about supporting the hurting and often forgotten victims of child sexual abuse; more often this is the supporting and protective parent. When they receive specialist emotional and practical support, they are then in a much stronger position to be stable and emotionally available to suitably support their child. This sort of care not only supports the parent and child, but the whole family, ensuring that they are able to rebuild their lives and have the right tools available to be able to thrive and move forwards. The National Lottery Community Fund has been key in helping keep Acts Fast on that compassionate quest.
As the organisation develops its future long term and on-going support, they have big goals and big ambitions to help those who need their specialist understanding and care. Acts Fast were delighted to receive the news of the funding award because now they can start to plan for the future of the organisations work and also develop stronger strategic partnerships with other professionals in their field.
Acts Fast now know that they are in a financially sustainable position for the next four years, something which has historically been a significant additional challenge to their work. This is an exciting and encouraging position for them to be in as they look to the future knowing they have that financial security.
Mandy Gulliver CEO said of the funding announcement “This means so much to the families we care for by providing genuinely life affirming support, freedom from shame and advice to victims who need that care at such a critical time. We would like to unreservedly thank the National Lottery Community Fund for their support and recognition of our work. As the National Lottery recognises how fundamental it is to support the protective parent and their family, we help ensure together with their child they can rebuild from the shock waves the disclosure would have brought.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude for making this possible and believing in our vision. We look forward to the next few years with a passion for knowing that we can make a big difference in the lives of those who need our support and care.
Thank you, National Lottery, and to all the players that make charities like us able to continue their vital work!”
Dr Andrew Mayers, Chair of Acts Fast and Principal Academic at Bournemouth University said “We are truly grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for supporting our vital work. The biggest challenge for any charity is securing enough funding to remain sustainable. With this phenomenal sum, we can develop the long-term future for the charity to ensure that we can support families for many years to come. The experience of childhood sexual abuse can have a devastating impact on that person’s mental health throughout their lives. By supporting the family to help the child navigate that experience, we can reduce that impact. I am deeply proud of the work Mandy and her team do, but now I am even more confident that they can continue to provide that support”.
A charity supporting families of sexually abused children has been able to continue operating thanks to over £16,000 worth of funding from the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.
Acts Fast, which works with the non-abusive parents or carers of children who have made a disclosure of sexual abuse, was one of the organisations to receive a Safer Dorset Fund Covid-19 Grant.
The grants were announced by Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill to help Dorset charities that were struggling as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, enabling them to continue providing their existing services or launch new projects to help local people. The pandemic has had a significant impact on all individual’s mental health, particularly those experiencing some form of trauma or abuse.
The charity describes a disclosure as being ‘like a bomb going off with shrapnel cutting into everyone involved’ and affecting lives in ways that parents and carers would never be expecting.
The funding has enabled the charity to provide support for a further 14 new referrals who came forward during the initial lockdown period of 2020, as well as continuing to support the existing clients already receiving help from the charity. Acts Fast provides services including therapeutic care and on-going support, sometimes for years to come, because of the severity of the impact of child sexual abuse.
The COVID-19 support funding also enabled them to provide an enhanced service to dozens of existing clients who needed much more frequent support because of the lockdown. Many of these clients told them they had begun suffering from problems such as increased isolation, anxiety and suicidal thoughts as a result of the lockdown.
The charity began holding virtual appointments to replace their original face-to-face appointments and expanded their hours of service to provide evening and weekend sessions to accommodate people who lived with children and could not talk openly during the day.
The COVID-19 grants were available to charities that can help Dorset residents, to help with the emergence of new issues caused by the pandemic, but particularly those that met the objectives of the county’s Police and Crime Plan.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Child sexual abuse doesn’t just have a devastating impact on the victims, but on those close to them, and Acts Fast provides essential help to often overlooked people living through traumatic and damaging situations.
“The pandemic has seen many already vulnerable people becoming even more isolated, and it would have been unthinkable for this organisation’s clients to be left without support.
“Commissioning services that provide a benefit to people in Dorset but otherwise would not exist is one of the most important elements of my role, and I am glad my team were able to meet the challenge presented by the pandemic and provide these vital funds so quickly.”
Mandy Gulliver, CEO and co-founder of Acts Fast, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding at a such a crucial time to enable the charity not only to continue but to continue to provide our vital lifeline of emotional support, which is essential, to help our clients through such a difficult and scary time.”
Acts Fast are continuing to develop their services and meet the expanding demands that COVID-19 is having across all aspects of society. It is hoped this funding will help them continue their supportive work and enable them to go onto support others who have been impacted by child sexual abuse.
The Bournemouth Echo have also covered this story here.
To donate to the charity, you can donate online or contact the office for further giving options.
Acts Fast is a Dorset based charity providing key emotional and psychological support to the non-perpetrating family members of sexually abused children. It is a difficult and emotionally sensitive topic to discuss, but with their help hundreds of lives each year are being transformed with shorter roads to recovery. Now, thanks to financial support from the Co-op Community Fund they can keep going and maintain their services. As a UK charity currently receiving no government support, it is thanks to grants and gifts such as this that they can keep doing good.
The Co-op Community Fund is a member led and member funded special grant which supports good causes across the UK. It is a really smart way for co-op members to raise funds for chosen charities by creating a funding stream through normal shopping habits. As members buy selected co-op products, they swipe their card and activate a deal where 2p from every pound is donated straight back to community causes and 2p is given back to the member. It is a very unique and convenient way to generate loyalty to the ethos of a cooperative, whilst helping do good in the local community.
Acts Fast have been successful in partnering with a BCP co-op store to raise £5,724 to support the ongoing work of the organisation. It has come at a key time for Acts Fast because through the pandemic there has been an increased need for expanded support and over longer periods of time. Acts Fast report that because of the direct impact of the pandemic on mental health and the much-reduced access to informal social support of friends, there has been a 34% increase in the time spent supporting clients on calls. This additional time requires additional volunteers and staff to provide phone, video, and messaging support to provide families with high quality care at a time when they need it most.
It is thanks to the work of Acts Fast that families can learn about the impact of trauma on their mental health and work through some strategies on dealing with the emotions of such horrific abuse. It is by helping the caring parent come to terms with their own mental health that they can then begin to understand the psychological impact this has had on their child. Often only then is a caring parent in a position to be able to support their child through not only the initial time of crises, but in the months and years to come.
Acts Fast is changing lives by helping shorten the period of raw pain and feelings of guilt that a parent will go through, and its through funding from fantastic organisations such as the co-op that this possible.
When asked about what this funding means, Mandy Gulliver charity CEO said:
“We are so grateful to the co-op for making this grant to us, and at such a key time. As we help support more and more families through such a tough time, we also know that there is likely to be an increased need in the months to come due to the pandemic. Many family’s emotional health is currently experiencing some of the greatest pressures now due the lockdowns increasing feelings of isolation; so it is wonderful to know that this sort of funding will help keep us going. Thank you, Co-op, for making a real difference to the lives of families across Dorset.”
For more information about Acts Fast and how you can get involved and support the charity, please head to www.actsfast.org.uk for more information.
The (Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has recently provided Acts Fast with a life affirming COVID-19 Coronavirus Emergency Fund grant that has bolstered the charities ability to keep doing good. The £4.5m CAF legacy gift fund is setup to support good causes which have their roots based in helping local people – so they immediately saw the high value that Acts Fast were delivering and wanted to make a difference.
The funding is designed to help charities provided the additional support that the global pandemic is throwing up by creating a buffer to help charities such as Acts fast adapt and sustain its operations in a uniquely challenging time. CAF generously gave £6,708 to support Acts Fast’s core operations, helping keep things running as the operations become increasingly challenging.
The pandemic has put additional pressure on many of Acts Fast clients, making it harder for families to access informal support and strengthen social networks – which we all need. This has led to many feeling a greater sense of isolation and struggling to productively move forwards from a child sexual abuse disclosure. At a time like this, it can be especially hard for a protective parent or family member, because not only does a disclosure throw open the door to a whole load of questions, but the very nature of a lockdown is all about keeping people apart. The informal social support that usually happens through already established friendships is now more often hard to come by, as at present, face to face socialising is not allowed for most of the UK. The additional burden of such a sensitive, challenging, and overwhelming topic is hard enough, but when a parent is no longer able to have their weekly catch up and offload to a friend over a coffee, the feelings of isolation become all the stronger.
Acts Fast helps to meet this growing need with specialist and highly trained professionals who not only provide an understanding ear, but also are trained to help coach individuals move past the trauma and progress forwards after a child discloses sexual abuse. This is a key strategic specialism of Acts Fast, because by helping the caring parent/carer come to terms with what has happened, it is only then possible to help them be positioned for supporting their child going forwards. The protective parent is a critical piece of the framework that helps a child recover and thrive again after sexual abuse, so it makes sense to provide parents with the right sort of specialist care and therapeutic support.
The CAF funding is critical for helping the charity meet the increased demand due to the pandemic, and charity CEO Mandy Gulliver expects this will only increase as we emerge from the lockdowns:
“The pandemic has been particularly hard for many of our parents because they feel so isolated at the moment; it’s such a difficult time. When a child discloses sexual abuse the protective parent often feels like they have let them down and failed – we know just how painful that can feel – so through our specialist support we are able to get alongside them, help stablise the emotional state and explain how the traumatic event impacts the brain and how we can move forwards, together. For many of our parents, it is knowing that there are other genuine people caring about them that can really help them support their own child past such a traumatic period. We have noticed this more so during the last year where guilt and low states of mental health have been amplified by the lockdown isolation.
We would like to sincerely thank CAF for being bold and donating to what for many is often a very challenging topic, so we would like to thank them for helping make a real difference in directly supporting vulnerable people through the pandemic. Thank you CAF – you are helping us make a real difference!”
Acts Fast continues its mission to support families of sexually abused children, and are welcoming opportunities for further funding as they seek to strengthen operations to meet the increasing level of need in the Dorset area. If you would like to discuss this with them, please head to their website or contact them directly to offer your support.
The Talbot Village Trust have recently donated £10,000 to support the ongoing therapeutic care and work of local charity Acts Fast during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This funding comes at a critical time for Acts Fast, who provide ongoing support to the families of children who have experienced sexual abuse. It is not a topic which is often openly discussed in society, but the work of Acts Fast plays a critical role in helping parents and families care for their children by providing tools, strategies and emotional support to help them on the road to recovery.
As many as 1 in 4 adults have themselves experienced some form of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday (oneinfour.org.uk) so there is increasingly a great need for Acts Fast specialist form of support. The pandemic has seen the demand for the charity’s services surge, with pressure for its support increasing by 12% during the first lockdown to an estimated 26% increase during the most recent lockdown.
The funding from the Talbot Village Trust is enabling crucial work to continue as well as helping Acts Fast expand its supporting services; with lengthier operating hours to include evening and weekend support. This £10,000 COVID-19 support grant is already making a difference in helping the charity fund its operations and provide critical support to some of the most vulnerable and otherwise forgotten families in our communities.
Commenting on the support Acts Fast received from the Trust, Chief Executive, Mandy Gulliver, said: “We are eternally grateful for the generous donation which has enabled us to continue providing crucial emotional support during this difficult time to our already exhausted clients.”
Trustee at Talbot Village Trust added: “I would like to thank Mandy and her team for providing such necessary support during these difficult times.
“The lockdown has greatly impacted our communities in so many ways and it was imperative that we supported as many charities as we could with our COVID-19 Fund, to ensure an increase in services could be met.“
Bournemouth Echo have also covered this interesting story here.
We are delighted and proud to have recently been awarded the High Sheriff of Dorset Award for our valuable service to the community. The award is such a privilege to receive in recognition of our dedication to the community we serve and the caring, on-going support we provide.
George Streatfeild, High Sherriff of Dorset presented the award to CEO Mandy Gulliver which recognises the appreciation of the residents and people of Dorset. We were particularly honoured to be recognised for the outstanding contribution made to the welfare and life of the community.
The High Sheriff visited us on 8th December to present the award, which was a lovely moment to connect and we thoroughly enjoyed his visit! High Sheriff George Streatfeild said following his visit:
I was so glad to be able to visit a few organisations now, following the end of Lockdown 2, and today I called in on Mandy Gulliver in Poole who set up and runs Acts Fast, a supportive charity covering the whole of Dorset.
It evolved from providing a volunteer counselling and group support service at ‘From Hurting 2 Healing’. Realising the enormity of the chronic lack of support for non-abusive parents/carers and families after their child’s disclosure of sexual abuse, she felt there was a lack of support for the families within Dorset and at the time only a couple of other charities nationally. The disclosure has been aptly described as akin to a bomb going off; shrapnel indiscriminately cutting into everyone involved, and without specialised support and understanding, the families are left to carry the shrapnel alone.
She works with a small team including Paula and Carrie, and throughout the pandemic they have been able to keep in touch with many of the families affected. Parents will feel even more isolated at the time of disclosure when having to admit that a partner or family member has been abusing their child seems impossible. But the support that Mandy and her team can provide helps to alleviate the blame that they and other members of the family often feel.
Over 60% of perpetrators are family members and this makes the crime even more shocking and difficult to deal with. The team is skilled in trauma therapy for all those in the household, and now supports around 250 families throughout Dorset, with about 50 accessing regular sessions either face to face or over the phone.
Mandy has been supported by local charity funding, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and some great local businesses. She has recently applied to the National Lottery, who can see the value in family support rather than just counselling for the affected child. And it was because of this huge dedication, I was privileged to present her with a Hugh Sheriff’s Award
We were delighted to receive him for the visit and thank him so much for shining a light on the need to offer support to the wider victims of child sexual abuse.