A highly successful event at St Aldhem’s Academy earlier in March, saw local singer-songwriter Stacey Leighann perform her new single ‘House of Cards’ as part of a series of talks and musical acts, raising awareness about child sexual abuse and mental health. Supported by Amelia McCloskey, manager of AM Studios in Longham, the event raised £450 for two Dorset charities, Acts Fast and Dorset Mind. Acts Fast are a Bournemouth-based charity supporting the non-abusive surviving family of child sexual abuse victims. Dorset Mind support clients with mental health difficulties across Dorset. – See more at: http://www.dorseteye.com/east/articles/child-sexual-abuse-awareness-event-raises-450-for-dorset-charities……..

Words from Chair of Trustees


Dr Andrew Mayers
Psychologist at Bournemouth University and mental health campaigner and educator

“I am proud to be Chair of Trustees for such an important charity. In my work, a significant proportion of the adults that I meet with acute mental health problems have a history of being sexually abused as a child. We know that child abuse is strong predictor of mental illness in adulthood. I see my role as helping reduce the impact of abuse on later mental health problems, and guide the charity on governance. Acts Fast provide support to non-offending parents, carers and family (and the chid) where there has been sexual abuse. All too often following an investigation into child sexual abuse, when the Police, social services, and child psychology teams have withdrawn, there is no one left yet to support the family. Yet, this is the time they need most support, not least coming to terms with the impact of the abuse. Acts Fast fill that gap. I am feel privileged to lead the Act Fast trustees as we look to build on the great work done so far.

On behalf on Acts Fast, I would also like to thank Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, as he steps down as Patron. His support and sponsorship has helped the charity though the early stages of our work. His guidance and influence has enabled us to really start making a difference across Dorset.”

Mandy Gulliver, Service Director & Co-founder, “I would like to thank Martyn Underhill, for his support, guidance and influence.  It has been a privilege to have had Martyn as our Patron”


Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police & Crimes Commissioner

“I am honoured to have been asked to be patron to this new and exciting charity. Child sexual abuse is a horrendous, hidden crime, which often involves the most awful of acts – the breach of parental trust. Child abuse doesn’t just damage the child involved horribly it implodes inside a family like a grenade, often destroying siblings and non-offending adults alike. In just minutes, a family can lose family stability, as well as the main wage earner, a parent, a partner. Acts Fast strives to provide support to the most needy of people – the non-offending parent or carer who is struggling to come to terms with the most heinous of crimes, as well as trying to support the child victim, and deal with the breakdown of a relationship and, often, huge financial instability.

Acts Fast is a step change in supporting non-offending parents, carers and family members involved in child abuse cases in Dorset. I welcome the team, I embrace the team and I wish them well on their journey.

Singers new single raises child sexual abuse.



Dorset Mind, Acts Fast, and AM Studios
February 22nd 2016

For immediate release



For decades, even talking about child sexual abuse has been a taboo topic. It is now becoming more acceptable to speak openly, perhaps a reflection of the need to do so in light of high profile public cases. There have been a number of media stories recently, where people have shared their stories in the hope that other will do so too. Now, rising Dorset star and talented singer-songwriter Stacey Leighann has taken a novel approach to raising awareness. Her new single ‘House of Cards’ draws on her own experience of being sexually abused as a child. Stacey is managed by Dorset agent and producer Amelia McCloskey, who runs AM Studios in Bournemouth. The video can be viewed at


To mark the launch of the new single and video, Stacey and AM Studios are working with local charities Dorset Mind and Acts Fast to produce a highly innovative event of song and talk. Stacey said “The reason I am doing this event is to raise awareness about the daily burden of living with mental health problems, especially those struggling with the effects of being abused as a child. Survivors are not alone and shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are. We are called survivors so that we can thrive and be ourselves”.

The event takes place at St Aldhelm’s Academy, Poole, on March 12th, 11.00-15.00. The ticket price of £12 includes a three-course gourmet meal. All ticket proceeds will be donated equally to Dorset Mind and Acts Fast. In addition to Stacey singing her new single, there will be further music from local artistes Calvin Glenn, Lee Rassle Dove, and Tanya Miller. The impact of child sexual abuse will be reinforced through talks from people sharing their own experiences. Speakers include Paul Scates (senior peer specialist in mental health, child sexual abuse campaigner, and Acts Fast trustee), Sue Crocombe (Acts Fast volunteer and child sexual abuse campaigner) Gerry Jones, Clinical Lead at Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre, and Stacey’s manager Amelia McCloskey.

The event will be presented by Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University who specialises in mental health. Dr Mayers also has close connections with both charities, being Patron for Dorset Mind (the local mental health charity) and Chair of Trustees for Acts Fast (the Bournemouth-based charity supporting the victims and non- abusive families of children who have been sexually abused). Dr Mayers said “The link between child sexual abuse and mental problems is clear. A significant proportion of adults with acute mental illness were sexually abused as a child. We also know that around 75% children who are sexually abused go on to experience a lifetime of mental health difficulties. We must all do all we can to eradicate child abuse. I am also determined to help reduce the inevitability of mental illness following abuse. I am honoured to be involved in this unique event, to raise awareness about the impact of child sexual abuse, and to raise funds for two charities that are taking great strides to tackle this problem”.

Anna Windett, a trustee at Dorset Mind said “Dorset Mind is proud to be supporting this event and the important issues Stacey is raising. We are passionate about supporting those with mental health issues across Dorset and campaigning on mental health issues.”

Mandy Gulliver, Director of Services at Acts Fast said “I would like to raise awareness of how much child sexual abuse impacts on the non-abusive parent/parents or carers of the child who discloses they have been abused. We need to say that it is OK for those carers to reach out for support, as they are affected too. We liken the disclosure as a bit like a bomb going off. The shrapnel hits everyone around, including other siblings, and extended family. In many cases also, it can be a trigger of their own experience of childhood sexual abuse, for which they may not have had support. This can have an impact on their own mental health.”

Tickets can be obtained via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/120361. Please note that attendees must be over 16 years of age. Qualified counsellors will be in hand throughout the event to give support if needed.


For an interview with Stacey, please contact her manager Amelia McCloskey on 07949 624690

For an interview relating to the work of Dorset Mind or Acts Fast, or about matters relating to mental health and child sexual abuse, contact Dr Andy Mayers on 07749 201980

Web and contact details:

Dorset Mind
Tel. 01202 551660, email enquiries@dorsetmind.uk, web http://www.dorsetmind.uk

Acts Fast
Tel: 07468 694068, email mandy@www.actsfast.org.uk, web https://www.actsfast.org.uk/

AM Studios
Tel: 07949 624690, email info@am-studios.co.uk, web http://www.am-studios.co.uk/

Dr Andrew Mayers
Tel: 07749 201980, email amyers@bournemouth.ac.uk, web www.andrewmayers.info

A survivor of child abuse, scarred but able to move on

Paul Scates, a trustee for child abuse victim charity Acts Fast with service director Mandy Gulliver

PAUL Scates describes himself as a survivor now but remembers vividly the first time he was abused by a trusted family friend.

At just eight years old, he recalls waking one night and being “frozen” while the man subjected him to the first of many acts of sexual abuse.

  • “Eventually, when the individual left my bedroom, it felt like an eternity before I could feel safe enough to walk out and go into my parent’s room. I didn’t speak out because I didn’t understand what had happened,” he explained.

Likeable, charismatic and well-respected, Paul said the man spent two to three years grooming not just him but his entire family. He then exploited his position of trust in order to physically and psychologically abuse a young boy.

It continued well into Paul’s teenage years, culminating in rape. After suffering for years in silence, his coping mechanisms could not prevent him from attempting suicide.

He described the ‘tsunami’ moment he told his parents and the journey to recovery which then followed.

“A lot of survivors and non-abusive parents carry an unfounded guilt and shame. I carried mine until I was 30. I’m now 36, and I’m still living it.

“But even my parents, wrongly, felt guilty because they felt they should have been able to notice it –but sometimes you don’t know what’s happening beneath your eyes.”

Now a mental health campaigner and trustee for the Ringwood-based charity Acts Fast, Paul said what helped him come to terms with his ordeal was talking – namely to other victims. But the recent national campaign #ItsNotOk highlighted the fact we are not talking about sexual abuse enough.

“In society, we tend to close our eyes and shut our ears and pretend or hope these kinds of things aren’t going on,” he said.

“There’s a clear lack of understanding that it’s not just the child that goes through it, it’s the parents and the other siblings. And a bit like any kind of natural disaster, the storm happens and you’ll have the aftermath, but there’s always the potential for the storm to return, psychologically.

“There’s no support once the court case is over. From a criminal justice point of view, there is closure, but for the individual and their family, there isn’t closure.”

This is where organisations like Acts Fast step in and offer support. Mandy Gulliver, the charity’s service director, said giving victims and their families that support and understanding sooner reduces the impact on their mental health.

“These things do affect the whole family. That’s why it’s really important for the non-abusive parent to talk to us and understand it isn’t their fault and, sadly, they were part of the grooming process themselves.

“Knowing you’re not alone and having people understand what you’re going through helps enormously and brings healing in itself. It also helps people to manage their mental health to help them support their child better,” she added.

Paul said he was eventually able to move forward and become a “purposeful member of society”. He now has the courage to talk openly about his experiences and be a spokesperson for change in the way sexual abuse victims are treated by the legal system and society in general.

“The gravity gets lost of how much this really affects people, and I worry people don’t take it as seriously as it is. I feel as a nation we have to stand united together and strong to enable change.”

He added: “When I look back at my journey, I had massive body dysmorphic disorder, and I eventually became my own abuser through drugs and alcohol.

“With organisations like Acts Fast, it’s about giving people a safe platform to explore and take away the psychological distress. You’ll always be scarred, but the hope is you can move forward.

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“That’s what drives the passion behind what I do because I’ve lived it and I’m breathing it and we want to help other people through that journey.”

Tweet Paul @paulscates or visit www.actsfast.org.uk

Copy Jade Grassby / Sunday 21 February / Bournemouth Daily Echo 

Thank you for your support!


A huge thank you to Kirstin McCormack for doing the Speed of Light 5K run in Bournemouth on 3rd October and for raising an amazing £187 much needed funds for us to help continue our work.

Also our thanks go to the CEGA Group for choosing our charity to donate funds on their ‘dress down at work day’.

A huge thank you to them for their support choosing our charity.

Donation helps Acts Fast

L-R: Dr Andrew Mayers (psychologist at Bournemouth University and Chair of Trustees, Acts Fast), Audrey Davies (Chair of Trustees, B-CHFT), Ian Pounds (Trustee, B-CHFT) and Mandy Gulliver (Service Manager, Acts Fast)

L-R: Dr Andrew Mayers (psychologist at Bournemouth University and Chair of Trustees, Acts Fast), Audrey Davies (Chair of Trustees, B-CHFT), Ian Pounds (Trustee, B-CHFT) and Mandy Gulliver (Service Manager, Acts Fast)

A BOURNEMOUTH charity which helps victims of child sexual abuse has benefited from a £1,500 donation towards its essential support services.

Acts Fast received the funds from Bournemouth Children and Families Trust (B-CHFT) ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, October 10.

Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University and Chair of Trustees for Acts Fast, said he was grateful for the donation. “At Acts Fast, we are concerned about how sexual abuse has a serious impact on the child’s future mental health.
“However, we cannot provide services without funding. This donation will make a huge difference to the work that we can do.”

Mandy Gulliver, service director at the charity, added the trust’s donation will help Acts Fast support non-abusive parents and carers. “Someone to talk and who will listen is vital in the recovery, not only for the parent, but for the whole family. We are grateful for B-CHFT’s generosity.”

She added: “Our aim is to ensure that the non-abusive parent or carer is freed from the guilt, shame and isolation experienced when their child discloses sexual abuse and to reduce the impact of the trauma.”

According to B-CHFT, one in four women will suffer domestic violence at some time in their lives. Audrey Davies, Chair of Trustees, said: “Perpetrators and sexual abusers come from all walks of life, and many individuals and families will be affected.

“Helping hands when you need them most is B-CHFT’s motto. We work with other local specialist organisations – like Acts Fast – to provide a haven of support, advice and guidance, to help you restore your feeling of self-worth, and your ability to take control of the situation.”

She added: “We are pleased to be able to provide a donation of £1,500 for their monthly phone line rental, to continue the valuable support, plus the monthly maintenance of their website,”

Local resident is a true inspiration – Sovereign Shopping Centre announce its first Inspire Awards winner



Earlier this year we launched our new Inspire Awards campaign, which aims to recognise and reward inspirational, unsung heroes in the local community. Now we are delighted to announce that the winner, by public vote, is Mandy Gulliver the co-founder of Bournemouth’s ACTSFAST charity.

Mandy, who was nominated for the award by her husband, set up ACTSFAST last year to support parents and carers of abuse victims. Over the past year Mandy has worked tirelessly, giving up nearly all her spare time (up to 30 hours a week) to help people in need. As well as this she is in her third year training to be a counsellor, which in itself is extremely challenging, taking a lot of time, effort and motivation.

Peter Ruscoe, the Centre Manager of the Sovereign Shopping Centre, presented Mandy with her recognition certificate and hamper prizes which included a whole host of pampering treats and relaxation gifts from Boots.

Mandy commented:

“I am absolutely thrilled to have won. I couldn’t believe it when my husband told me he had put forward a nomination let alone to know that public voted for me to be the winner. Thank you to everyone that has supported me and the charity over the past year and a half, I cannot express my gratitude enough and I will continue to work hard for ACTSFAST and ensure there is always someone there for those in need.”

Peter added:

“At the Sovereign Shopping Centre we are incredibly proud about being part of such an incredible community in Bournemouth. We come across so many people in our day to day jobs, people who lead extraordinary lives putting others before themselves and are truly inspirational hence why we launched these awards. Congratulations to Mandy for being our first Inspire Awards winner and a heartfelt thank you for all her hard work.”

New Chair of Trustees


Dr Andrew Mayers PhD, MBPsS Senior Lecturer in Psychology, at Bournemouth University

We are delighted to have Andrew on board as our New Chair of Trustees

Abuse education needed to combat child sexual exploitation


CALLS for sex education to be expanded to combat child abuse have been welcomed in Dorset.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s wants all children in England to receive age-appropriate lessons – and secondary school pupils to be taught directly about child sexual exploitation and abuse.

It comes after the charity recorded a 50 per cent rise last year in the number of sexual exploited and at-risk children it helped – up to 3,175 children across the UK in the year 2014-15.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said teaching children about healthy relationships was “key” to preventing exploitation.

He added: “It must not be allowed to drop off the agenda. The new Government in Westminster must work with local authorities, police, schools and parents across England to help keep young people safe and bring their abusers to justice.”

As well as expansion of sex and relationship education, the charity wants teachers to receive specialist training on “the nature of child sexual exploitation and abuse” so they can deliver classes effectively and confidently.

It also called for parents to be involved by schools in Sex and Relationship Education from the beginning.

Mandy Gulliver, service director at Bournemouth based Acts Fast, which supports child abuse victims and their families, said more education “suitable to the age of the child” was needed “to help them understand what a healthy relationship is, and what is appropriate from an adult.”

She added: “Teachers need to have specialist training, to spot the signs that potential child abuse is taking place, or being groomed ahead of abuse. We have to combat this problem in an holistic way, to help protect our future generations.”

Dr Andrew Mayers, senior lecturer in psychology at Bournemouth University, and trustee at the charity said with expert input such conversations with children could be started earlier.

“Abuse can start at a early age – or the grooming can. If we can identify these things a lot earlier it can prevent escalating abuse”

He added: “We should also be raising awareness in schools and encouraging children and young people to speak out about anything that is bothering them or making them uncomfortable.”

Cllr Mike White, portfolio holder for children and young people, Borough of Poole, also supported Barnardo’s views, adding: “We are already, through our Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Strategy, supporting schools with staff training and working with them to develop age appropriate education for children and young people so that they can make informed decisions and know what support is available to them.”