Creating smiles for Scotland’s children
Children 1st’s #createasmile campaign asks people to show Scotland’s children they all deserve lives free from abuse and neglect. Our Individual Giving Manager Lianne Fyfe explains the thinking behind it.
Child abuse is an extremely complex issue for children and has a substantial impact on families. We have a long history of supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and would never underestimate the seriousness of it, or the damaging effects it can have throughout a child’s lifetime. For these reasons it can be difficult for many members of the public to see how they can personally make a difference.
With that in mind, we wanted to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to take part initially – by visiting the microsite, creating a unique smiling child’s face and sharing it on social media. By encouraging people firstly to #createasmile we’re then hoping to encourage them to find out more: that by supporting our work, they can support Scotland’s children. We need more people to help us raise awareness that, with the right help, children can move on from their experiences and be given new reasons to smile.
Every day, Children 1st works with children, their families and carers to recover from the physical and emotional impacts of abuse. We help children who have been abused to overcome feelings of helplessness and trauma by providing a welcoming, safe and creative environment to work through their past experiences.
Our trauma recovery workers support children and their families to understand they are not to blame, to believe in themselves, re-discover their confidence and know that they can have some control over the direction of their future.
Millie’s story shows that recovery is possible even from the worst experiences.
Millie* was abused by an adult cousin from age five. She was well into her teens before she was able to tell someone, and the police able to act. That was when Children 1st began to support her.
“As any five year old would, I put my trust in my cousin because he was an adult. But he took advantage of me and made me feel like it was all my fault. He said if I told anyone I wouldn’t be his ‘special little girl any more’, he also said I would go to prison and be in a lot of trouble.
“Over the years it had been getting worse as he was doing more stuff to me. I was 17 before it stopped. When one of my young cousins came to visit I got worried about what might happen and wanted to protect her.
“I spoke to my auntie and we went out in the car with my mum. I told them what had been happening. A few days later my mum phoned the police and they came and interviewed me and took statements.
“It was a difficult time and my doctor put me in touch with Children 1st. Thanks to them I was able to confront my cousin and show him I’m in power not him.”
Millie recently wrote to her Children 1st worker:
“I hope you understand this took a lot of courage and inspiration. I got all my inspiration from you. I really appreciate all the help you have gave me. If it wasn’t for you and Children 1st I don’t think I would have been here where I am today.”
Abuse and neglect in childhood can leave lasting emotional scars but with the right support recovery is possible. It takes time, empathy, commitment and consistency. All of which Children 1st provides.
Shockingly, there were 5,123 offences of sexual abuse and cruelty against Scotland’s children last year**. By the end of the month we’re aiming to have at least this number of smiles created – but we could really do with your help!
To sign up and show your support visit: http://createasmile.org.uk/ (and make sure to SHARE the smile you create!)
* Names and some details have been changed to protect confidentiality
**Scottish Government recorded crime statistics.