A creative writers club developed by a survivor of childhood sexual violence to increase peer support for other victims has received high praise from Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews.
Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland PCC Mr Matthews provided a grant of just over £6,000 to Leicester charity Quetzal for a project aimed at encouraging survivors to launch their own peer support groups for women impacted by childhood sexual abuse.
The charity has already supported a survivor to launch Quetzal Creative Writers Club – a women-only survivor-led space for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to engage in healing through writing.
The group meets every Tuesday evening on Zoom exploring topics such as addiction, trauma recovery and growth and have previously hosted two workshops with published authors Deviki Patel and Elizabeth Shane.
One survivor who attends the group said: “The writing group is a place for me to express myself, to think ahead as well as being present in the past, it is a time to offload and clear a space in my head. That’s what writing is about. When I have too much in my head, I am putting it on paper. It allows me to have a clear mind.”
As part of the same project, the charity has commissioned Survivors Voices – a survivor-led organisation that harnesses the expertise of people affected by abuse to transform society’s response to trauma and abuse – to deliver training and supervision to support individuals in launching their own peer support groups.
The sessions will start from this month and will include two-day peer support facilitator training and six hours of reflective supervision to individuals interested in setting up a group.
Mr Matthews said: “Ensuring victims and survivors of crime receive the support they need to move on from trauma is very important to me.
“Survivors are well-placed to meet the needs of other survivors and as this writing group has shown, providing a safe space where people can share experiences with those who understand and have lived through abuse can be both life-changing and inspiring for other survivors.
“Thanks to the training commissioned by Quetzal, I’m hopeful other survivors feel empowered to launch their own peer support groups in the future.”
Dr Marie Lefebvre, project facilitator, added: “This project builds better health and wellbeing for female survivors by empowering them to create social connections and develop support in their own communities.
“Through this work, Quetzal has been able to gain a deeper understanding survivors' aspirations, talents, and experience and how they can be nurtured to help support other women as they take steps towards recovery.”
To date, 16 survivors have expressed an interest in the training being provided by Quetzal and eight individuals have applied to complete the peer support facilitator training.
One survivor and applicant to the peer support facilitator training, who completed 12 months of counselling with Quetzal, said: “As a survivor of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse – I want to help others realise they are not alone. I want to help people understand they can indeed thrive and that the significant trauma they went through, does not need to define them.”
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Posted on Monday 16th January 2023