Sarah Champion MP joins with AVA to celebrate their work with young survivors of abuse

Today, Sarah Champion MP joined with Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) to mark the culmination of three years work to empower young people who have experienced abuse. AVA is a leading UK charity that is committed to ending gender based violence and abuse by striving to improve services for survivors. Over the past three years AVA has been running a Big Lottery funded project that gives young people who have experienced abuse the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to discussions about services for survivors.

The event today showcased the achievements of the young people who had been involved in the project. All of these young people gained accreditation as peer educators, and have worked together to successfully influence politicians, commissioners and practitioners.

Speaking on the success of this project, AVA's Policy Manager Jo Sharpen said:

AVA believe that young people are social actors and experts in their own lives, however all too often the fact that they are defined as victims of abuse prevents them from being treated as such. Because of their vulnerability, services often act in a protective way which may limit the participation of young people.

We are pleased to celebrate the successes of the work of our amazing peer educators but also want to highlight the need for practitioners, services and government to recognise young people as experts in their own lives and to ensure meaningful participation in service commissioning, design and delivery.

Sarah Champion MP has been a vocal advocate for victims and survivors of abuse being consulted in decisions around service provision. As a key speaker at the event today she reiterated her commitment to this cause:

As a society we need to start listening to, and learning from, the experiences of victims and survivors of abuse. They are the experts, yet too often we ignore them rather than empowering them to make positive change. Every survivor of abuse I've met wants to do something to stop someone else becoming a victim and this is exactly what AVA makes happen.

NewsVanessa Johns