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Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel

A Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel assists and advises the Inquiry on all aspects of its work.

The seven members of this panel are closely involved in the work of the Inquiry, providing advice and guidance to the Chair and Panel. 

The panel comprises May Baxter-Thornton, Sheila Coates, Lucy Duckworth, Emma Lewis, Fay Maxted, Chris Tuck, and Kit Shellam. 

The panel members bring a wealth of experience providing support and advocacy for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

May Baxter-Thornton

I am a support worker living in Aberdare.

I was sexually abused as a child in the late seventies and early eighties. I never saw a social worker and my teachers didn’t notice what was going on. Back in those days people just didn’t report child sexual abuse. Through this Inquiry I want to stop children from slipping through the net.

Now, I do what I can to stop perpetrators and support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

When I was 18, I moved from my home town of Aberdare to Sunderland to study photography, video and digital imaging. Since graduating, I started working for Wearside Women in Need in women's refuges with women, children and teenagers fleeing abuse.

I’ve also worked for organisations including the British Red Cross and Sure Start on initiatives including refugee awareness and the importance of keeping teenage fathers in touch with their children.

I moved back to Wales in 2015 where I’ve been focusing on helping sex workers and women vulnerable to exploitation.

Taking on a role as part of the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel will give me the chance to use both my experience of child sexual abuse and my professional expertise. Due to professional boundaries, there aren’t many jobs that allow you to blend the two and stand up for victims and survivors.

I will work tirelessly to ensure victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, who have been let down by the system, will be heard by the Inquiry.

Sheila Coates

I have 32 years’ experience of providing front­line services to adult and child victims/survivors of all forms of sexual abuse. I am a founder member of a Rape and  Sexual Abuse counselling and advocacy service which opened in 1984 and I have also been a sexual violence and abuse counsellor for 11 years, supporting adults and children by providing sexual abuse counselling and police and court support.

Since 1980, I have worked with individuals who endured institutional sexual abuse and I continue to work with victims/survivors of institutional abuse and those who have been let down by institutions. I have worked in prisons supporting victims/survivors and with probation to provide the victims’ perspective to convicted sex offenders. This work confirmed my personal understanding of sex offender’s use of ‘victim blaming’/coercion, and misuse of power/authority. I regularly work nationally, both collectively and collaboratively with individuals and organisations; my national representation work is on behalf of Rape Crisis England and Wales (RCEW) representing the views and experiences of those that have used our services and our member groups. I continue to represent the experience of victims/survivors at national meetings as I have done for the last 15 years.

I believe that there is now a greater opportunity to break the silence for victims/survivors, to move to the protection of future generations of children and to continue pressing for an appropriate criminal justice response and the availability of appropriate support services both statutory and voluntary for all victims and survivors.

Lucy Duckworth

I have worked with adult survivors of sexual abuse for over 11 years, providing both advocacy and counselling support, initially alongside my former career as a teacher. This background in education not only gave me management and public sector experience, but provided me with a working knowledge of how safeguarding works in practice as well as the challenges faced by professionals. It cemented my dedication to working with other like-minded agencies to improve life for both children and adults who have been abused, neglected and let down by the very institutions that were charged with their safety, which I achieve in a variety of settings.

Due to my own experiences, this work began by campaigning to improve safeguarding as well as the response to adult victims of abuse within faith organisations, especially within the Church of England (although I am not a member of any faith). This work has led me to work with other specialists to inform policy at all levels, from senior politicians and leaders of the church to training programmes with legal professionals, police, regional mental health and safeguarding teams. For several years I chaired a voluntary organisation that helped survivors of child and adult abuse, perpetrated by those working within a faith organisation. I assisted them on a case by case basis as well as undertaking high profile campaigning and media work including newsnight, radio 4s today programme, PM and Any Questions and BBC One's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

I undertook training in psychotherapy, completing my Masters of Science with Psychodynamics of Human Development at Birkbeck University, in collaboration with the British Psychotherapy Foundation. I chose to specialise my research in the lifelong effects of early trauma, with my final thesis exploring the Collective Denial of Child Sexual Abuse within UK Institutions.

I have a particular interest in further research in this area, and sit on a university consultation panel exploring similar research, as well as supervising a dissertation for MSc students for the current academic year. I passionately believe that everyone should have equal access to education, a safe childhood and the health and welfare services they need to reach their full potential as an adult.

Emma Lewis

I am a community development worker from Swansea.

I didn’t get the perfect start in life. My mother was fighting her own battles with addiction and she couldn’t keep me safe.  I was taken into care when I was 10. I struggled in my foster placements and desperately wanted to be home with my mother and stepfather.

I first disclosed the sexual abuse I’d experienced at the hands of a family member when I was just 12. I was about to become a teenager, and I was with my friends when it all came out.  At that age, I didn’t have the right words to fully explain what had happened to me, or the tools to make sure something was done about it.

I left care at 18 to live independently with no qualifications and few people to guide me. My life was turbulent and unstable.

In 2011, with the crucial and invaluable support of others in Swansea, I co-founded the Roots Foundation. I now lead a team of development workers and volunteers who support young people leaving care to ensure they get the help they need.

Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse don’t always have a place to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings especially in Wales which has lots of rural communities. I want to hear what victims and survivors have to say and act as a voice for them.

Fay Maxted

I have worked with survivors of sexual violence and abuse since 1996, when I was appointed manager of RoSA (Rape or Sexual Abuse Support) in Rugby.  I have supported survivors in dealing with responses to their disclosures of abuse in care homes, faith and school settings, provided support with criminal and civil actions and in claiming criminal injuries compensation.

I helped establish The Survivors Trust (TST) in 2003 as a UK and Ireland network of specialist rape and sexual abuse support services with a membership of 70 specialist agencies. I was appointed CEO in 2004 and I attend a range of national groups and forums aimed at addressing the institutional responses to survivors of child sexual abuse and rape.

In the past four years, I have overseen the set-­up of five new rape and sexual abuse support centres, funded through the government commitment to open 15 new centres. In addition to my role in TST I am a member of the National Police Chiefs Council Rape Working Group, and a member of the HMIC Rape Monitoring Group. I am also a member of the CPS External Stakeholder Group and the CPS Community Accountability Forum which raises issues of current concern facing survivors of sexual violence and abuse.

I was also a member of the now concluded Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment (CSAFE) and a member of the Research Advisory Group for the CSAFE research project. I was awarded an OBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of my work promoting survivors’ rights.

Kit Shellam

I had a tough boyhood. I was born with cerebral palsy. My father died when I was four. From the age of six and a half I was sexually abused. Throughout my childhood I also suffered from neglect and emotional and physical abuse. I lived with menace and fear daily for most of my childhood years.

At age 11, I went to a boarding school for children with physical disabilities. I was also sexually abused there. I left the school at age 16 with very little meaningful education and any life chances virtually extinguished.

In my twenties I took a degree as a mature student. When I returned to my home town I was still unable to get work. I kept on looking and five years later, I got a job in a supported factory. My first job was putting screws into plastic bags.  Some years later I ended up running this factory and the associated disability employment programmes for the Local Authority. While doing this management role I also worked hard to achieve a diploma in management studies.

A number of years later I obtained a job in a neighbouring county running a similar operation. However, this senior management role and business was about three times the size so I took a strategic management approach to improve the business. It was challenging, but I always revelled in making the business work well with cohesive staff groups while ironing out those little wrinkles of dysfunction.

Nowadays I live in rural Herefordshire and it is here I founded the 17 Percent of Men to support men in the county who, like me, were sexually abused in childhood. Men are still reluctant to disclose their boyhood abuse so need support when they do so. In rural counties like Herefordshire, you can find those who deny that sexual abuse happens in their part of England.

Chris Tuck

I am an active campaigner working to raise the profile of childhood abuse in the UK and the need for legislative and societal change, regularly appearing in the national broadcast and print media.

I raise awareness of the effects of child abuse on victims’/survivors’ mental, emotional and physical health and I am a regular speaker/presenter at national and regional conferences and events. I established the first UK conference to positively address the issues of child abuse in September of 2014. It was the first conference to bring together all stakeholders and included survivors, support agencies, the Metropolitan Police and specialist legal experts.

I am a qualified health and fitness coach and I now support others in their own healing through an holistic programme encompassing mindset, health and nutrition, working both individually, and in safe, small group environments helping survivors to ‘break the cycle’™ of low self­-esteem and limiting behaviours.  I also run seminars developed specifically to help survivors overcome the barriers that prevent them moving forward so that they are able to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

I am a published author of ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’ which documents my own experience and that of my siblings growing up in an abusive home. Written to inspire other survivors, all the profits of the book sales are re­invested in my charity, Survivors of Abuse (S.O.B) established to raise awareness, to provide help and support through workshops, conferences and seminars and ultimately to provide funds for crisis counselling for survivors. I have also written ‘Parenting Without Tears’, a guide to help survivors of childhood abuse address the challenges they face as parents.

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Get in touch

If you wish to ask a question about the Inquiry please contact us. You can get in touch using any of the options below.

  • Call us on 0800 917 1000. The line is open 9am – 5pm on weekdays. Calls are free and do not show on your bill. The information Inquiry line will close at 5pm on Thursday 14th April and re open at 9am on Tuesday 19th April.
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