Healing happens together

All Categories

The MSP Board – November 2018

















It seems like a lifetime ago since the standards were released at the House of Lords, yet in fact it was only the beginning of this year.  Being all together again, as the founding board of The Male Survivors Partnership, felt like another really important moment.


Every single trustee sat in the (Clarke Wilmott) office in London shared the same passion and determination to improve the consistency and quality of the services provided to males. Among us are academics, service providers and survivors who enable us to all bring our difference in expertise to the discussion on how we move forward and achieve what we have set out to.


All of us have been busy in the background, firing emails to one another to update on progress being made but nothing could compare to an actual discussion round a table. Point by point we worked through the once overwhelming agenda to discover the amount of work that has been done behind the scenes and the clear progression that had already been made. As each update was given, the new actions set and and a real excitement for the next 12 months became palpable.


None of us could quite believe the success of the standards and how quickly organisations were jumping at the chance to get involved. In 2019 there are exciting plans ahead regarding accreditations and news that we will share with you soon so please watch this space for the updates.


All the small details that needed to be finalised have now been agreed which leaves us with plenty to be getting on with so watch this space for details of everything planned for 2019.






Along with my partner Clare, we founded Survivors In Transition (SiT) in 2009 – initially set up to provide peer support for women who had experienced sexual abuse in childhood. This was largely driven by Clare’s own experience and a dearth of support available in Suffolk as a whole and Ipswich in particular.

We gaily set about doing some good and contributing to our community. Despite Clare having received the bulk of her therapy in our native Zimbabwe, Ipswich was our home and where we had decided to settle.

We hired a room in a business centre for one afternoon a week and managed to get the local paper to advertise the group meeting time. Over time the group grew and we finally had more attendees than volunteers; which was we took as a sign we were doing the right thing.

In late 2010 we were contacted by a man who was desperate for some support. I gave him some time over the phone but am still ashamed to admit we turned him away as we only offered a women’s group.

This man’s voice has never left me. The desperation, the obvious fatigue from trying to find some support and the fact we’d entered the circle of people who had so obviously let him down haunted me personally.

So, we had a think and discussed whether there was a need to offer support for men and agreed that we would give it a go… surely we just offered the same provision as we did for women and the men would come streaming through the doors of the grubby community centre we were using…in their droves? Surely?
The volunteers we had at that time will attest to many a frustrating, expectant evening waiting for men to ‘turn up’ to our drop in sessions. More thinking. Maybe we’d got it wrong, maybe we should go back to just women? But the man’s voice still haunted me – and I wanted him to know we’d changed and could help him too. More thinking – maybe we needed to offer men something different? Maybe they don’t engage like women!

We changed our offer to men in 2011 and haven’t looked back. We offered them a variety of ways to engage with us, without having to walk in any actual door – until they are ready to do so.

We’ve learnt that it takes men 3-4 times as many ‘non contact’ engagements with us than it does women; less than half the amount of men than women we work want to take part in group work and men generally need a few less therapy sessions than women. But that’s it.

We’ve worked hard to ensure parity in our organisation – that the offer to men and women is the same and that they equally have as many ways as possible to engage with us, ensuring the door is equally wide open for anyone to walk through, when they are ready.

Recognising that male survivors of sexual violence were not well represented or supported in Suffolk and that we had a growing need for specialist male services and ever increasing demand from men, we approached our PCC in 2015 with a proposal for a Male ISVA, which we were successful with, and we appointed a man into the position – not without controversy – we were constantly asked would men who had experienced sexual abuse or violence engage with a man? What if they had been abused by a man….Blah blah. We held firm, as we believed they would engage with him – and they did.

We had consulted service users prior to this – the majority of them felt that as long as they were listened to, believed and respected that the gender, race or any other demographic of the person offering support wasn’t important.

So over the years we’ve become the voice for all survivors in Suffolk, including male survivors and it feels like we’ve been the dissenting voice at the back of the class saying ‘…and men too’ for years, so I was personally thrilled to attend our last update on the Suffolk VAWG strategy and be informed that they had revised the name of the strategy which is still work in progress to Violence Against Women and Girls, Men and Boys (VAWG,MB). No more ‘and men’ in brackets. We’ve worked hard to ensure equality in our service and I’m pleased that male survivors are finally being recognised in our county’s strategy and plans and its my personal aspiration that no survivor in Suffolk gets turned away again, ever. I’ll never know what happened to that man who called in 2010, and that’s on me. But not again.

Sara Blake, Head of Localities and Partnerships at Suffolk County Council had this to say:

“The Violence Against Women and Girls, Men and Boys Multi Agency Strategy is an important piece of work for us here in Suffolk. Whilst we acknowledge the gendered nature of domestic and sexual violence, as a partnership we recognise that both females and males can be victims and perpetrators and felt that our Strategy and action plan should reflect this.

Every report of abuse has a perpetrator and a victim at its heart. Even if not involved, a child will often feel the consequences and be affected by what they have seen or heard. In Suffolk we have developed a Strategy rooted in prevention and early intervention and are committed to ensuring that people receive the right support at the right time to reduce the likelihood and personal impact of becoming a victim of abuse.’

Fiona and team are proud to be part of the Male Survivors Partnership and look forward to seeing the development of the Male Service Standards.

In the light of MSP’s involvement in the latest headlines with Coronation Street, Sam Thompson shares his thoughts.

In March 2017 whilst engaging in therapy with MSP founding member, Survivors Manchester, I made the decision that I wanted to grab my negative experience, take back the power that it took from me and turn it into something positive that gave my life meaning again.

I was hammering my way down the recovery highway with less than a handful of miles to go before I reached my destination when I realised that I was beginning to loose momentum, but why? My tank was full of determination, I was being regularly serviced by Survivors Manchester, and I had more than enough supportive passengers to keep me on the straight and narrow. As I glanced in my rear view mirror the realisation applied itself to my breaks and escorted me into the nearest layby. I was leaving other survivors behind.

I had found my voice, broke my silence and started to rebuild the life that had crumbled from all around me. This though is not the same for every survivor out there. On average in takes men over 20 years to talk about being a victim of sexual assault or abuse and when we combine that with the fact that 1 in 6 men worldwide have survived these experiences… that is a shockingly high number of people that are battling to contain a mixture of uncontrollable emotions. Why do we as men feel the need to put ourselves through that kind of pain? I have no idea but what I do know is we isolate ourselves by not talking about our feelings, get trapped behind the outdated perception of masculinity and essentially feel like we have to face every one of life’s problems alone.

This then gave me the idea to share my story as far and wide as possible in order to show other men that talking about our feelings and experiences actually helps us to recover. Additionally I wanted to show that certain experiences and events are out of our control and therefore by experiencing them we are not any less of a man. But most importantly men need to know that we do not have to face everything on our own and even as a survivor of an unwanted sexual experience we are not alone. With the help of Survivors Manchester, JamPR and a number of other people I managed to achieve worldwide coverage of my story on a variety of media platforms, encouraging an unbelievable number of people to break their silence.

Once I’d taken a moment to recover and process everything that I had achieved I was contacted and asked to take part in a documentary for Channel 5. In this documentary ‘Raped: My Story’ 9 women and me shared our experiences with the hope of breaking down some of the myths surrounding rape and changing some of the misconceptions. We all received a phenomenal reception for out involvement and an exciting level of engagement from people that once believed rape to be about the length of your skirt or the number you’d score on a breathalyser.

More recently I have been involved in working alongside Survivors Manchester and Coronation Street to develop a storyline that has projected male rape in to the forefront of people’s minds. On Friday 16th March our televisions implied that David Platt had been drugged and raped by Josh Tucker. On Saturday morning there had been a 200% increase in the number of males seeking support from the National Male Survivor Helpline, delivered by MSP founding member Safeline, for the first time and this had increased to 1700% by Wednesday. Incredible!

I can now safely say to myself that I have turned my negative experience into something positive and I am proud of that. What I can also say is that there is a direct correlation between negative experiences featuring in the media and the positive outcomes that follow when they are covered with the right level of care and attention. Some people may be appalled that the rape of a man has occurred on their beloved soap however aren’t they willing to let it slide? Just for a few weeks? Isn’t it more important that thousands of people are making the life changing decision to embark on the highway of recovery?

LimeCulture CIC has today announced the 10 Wave 1 Sites who have been selected for inclusion in the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support Programme as part of the Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence that were recently launched in the House of Lords by Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales.

The Wave 1 Sites are:

  1. The Oak Centre SARC (Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust)
  2. Mankind
  3. The Saturn Centre SARC (Mountain Healthcare)
  4. Survivors UK (London)
  5. Survivors in Transition
  6. Safeline
  7. Notts SVS Services
  8. West Yorkshire ISVA Service (Victim Support)
  9. Stepping Stones, North Wales
  10. Survivors Manchester

As part of the Wave 1 Site application process, we received three times as many applications as places available on the first Wave. This demonstrates a clear appetite from services wishing to meet the Quality Standards and evidence this through an independent accreditation process.

The applications we received were from a range of services supporting male victims/survivors of sexual violence, something LimeCulture and the MSP have been keen to encourage since the Quality Standards having been developed to be applicable to all services supporting males. Applications came from a range of services including: male-only services and services supporting both males and females, voluntary sector and statutory sector services, counselling and therapeutic services, Helpline services, ISVA services and SARC services, as well as sexual violence support services located with the university setting. The response has been fantastic.

Crucially, the purpose of Wave 1 is to trial and test the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme, which has been designed to provide an independent ‘KiteMark’ to services who meet the Quality Standards. While it is vital that this independent process is able to rigorously assesses and accurately monitor services against the Quality Standards, it is also important that for those services who do not yet meet the Quality Standards or are working towards achieving it, this process can identify where services need further work to meet the quality standards and provide targeted support to assist their development.

Stephanie Reardon, Joint CEO for LimeCulture said: “Wave 1 is absolutely key for LimeCulture to trial and test our own assessment processes, as well as the support functions required to support services to meet the Quality Standards. On that basis the 10 Wave 1 Sites that have been selected because they offer us an excellent spread of services to work with across England and Wales. The 10 Wave 1 Sites are also meeting the Quality Standards to varying degrees, which is useful as it allows us to test how best to support services to reach the benchmark and fully comply with the Quality Standards”.

Lloyds Bank Fund England and Wales, who funded the development of the Quality Standards, has funded the 10 Wave 1 Sites to be included in the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme. Given the high number of applications we received, we know that a large number of services supporting male victims/surviors offering demonstrably high quality services have been disappointed not to be include in the programme in this first wave. LimeCulture and MSP are now in discussions about expanding the Independent Accreditation, Monitoring and Support programme in further waves. Further information about the programme and applications for wave 2 sites will be made in due course.

The Quality Standards for Services Supporting Male Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence are available to download free of charge by clicking here

As the first Programme Management Board of 2018 commences, the PMG and Lime Culture CIC reflect on coming to the end of the 1st year of this incredible project.

Without a doubt, this first year has surpassed expectations and whilst we have achieved what we set out to and are perfectly on track with regards to the original project plan and on budget too, the quality of what Lime Culture CIC have produced is far greater than we expected.

Opening the PMG, Duncan Craig of Survivors Manchester thanked Lime Culture’s Tom, Becky and Steph for all of their hard work and input into this project and congratulated them on the production of the Male Service Standards and supplementary documents such as the desktop review, and accreditation documents. These sentiments were very much echoed by PMG members, Neil Henderson (Safeline), Martyn Sullivan (Mankind) and Andy Connelly (Survivors UK).
Following the agenda, the meeting began with all those present checking and discussing the project plan and budget, making sure that the project is on track. Discussion focused on the budget allocated for supporting organisations to work to meet the standards and a lively debate was had on how important it is for this project to ensure that quality is held on to whilst also ensuring that organisations’ expectations of what support can be offered and what needs can be met is managed effectively.

The meeting then moved on to discuss the Draft Accreditation and Monitoring Process including self-assessment and evidence guidance. As PMG members have been looking at this already and feeding back information, it meant that a greater discussion could be had on ‘sense checking’ the processes that Lime Culture have designed for organisations to go through. As the PMG are all organisations themselves, they were able to give Lime Culture insight into what might be problematic and what needs explaining, using their own experience. A deeply rich conversation was had and a number of key decisions we’re able to be made by Lime Culture on how they will proceed.

Steph, Becky and Tom then took the PMG through their ideas for how organisations could engage in this Wave 1 process and the launch of the standards, which will take place in Westminster on 31.01.18 (which we will ensure that we produce a blog about on the day).

The meeting drew to a close and all agreed that the forthcoming year was going to be thoroughly exciting and that male survivors of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation can only be winners with this project – they deserve to get a quality assured support service regardless of where they live in the UK.

PMG Documents

Meeting Agenda – Click Here

The 2nd Programme Management Group (PMG) for the Lloyds Bank Foundation funded ‘Male Service Standards’ Project and once again, the Male Survivors Partnership is grateful to Savills in Birmingham for providing us with a meeting room.

Duncan Craig, Chair of the PMG, opened the meeting and thanked colleague, Neil Henderson for once again arranging for the meeting to happen at Savills.

The board read through the minutes of the last PMG, which took place on 05.07.17, and all agreed they were accurate representation of the meeting.

Becky Dewdney-York and Tom Leavesley, from Lime Culture, took the board through the current project plan evidenced the tasks, actions and budget are all on track. Tom stated that he would be attending a Lloyds Banks Foundation meeting at the end of the month, along with Chris Speed from Survivors Manchester as they are the grant holders, that will focus on evaluation of the projects.

Tom then presented the initial findings from the male standards survey, much to the fascination of the board.

All agreed that whilst there was still work to do on the analysis of the data, the initial findings show an important picture of what male survivors in the UK are experiencing.

The board moved then to discuss the draft standards, which provoked a lively and interesting debate. Duncan asked that the standards were sent in advance to some of our international colleagues as he will be asking them for feedback when he is in New Zealand, as part of the South-South Institute Conference.

Following this discussion, ideas for the launch of the standards were presented and Lime Culture took away actions to discussion with key stakeholders.

The meeting closed at 4pm and the next meeting was agreed to be arranged via email.

PMG Documents

Meeting Agenda – Click Here
Meeting Minutes – Click Here

Chief Executive Officer of Survivors Manchester and co-founder of the Male Survivors Partnership, Duncan Craig, was delighted to be able to present a talk to ISVA’s, ISVA Managers, CPS, Senior Strategic leads, and Home Office and Ministry of Justice Representatives on the development of the partnership and the Male Service Standards programme.

Introduced by ex Solicitor General and current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, Duncan spoke to delegates about the important reason why the Male Survivors Partnership was born and the need to create quality assured framework for services to work from when supporting boys and men.

Duncan said

Since the football scandal broke and Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Chris Unsworth and many others stepped forward, we have seen a significant increase in requests for support in services working with males. Our colleagues at Safeline who are also co-founders of the MSP, who run the National Male Survivor Helpline, have seen the number of calls from men sky rocket yet the funds to support the increase in calls hasn’t grew. Men and boys deserve quality assured support and I know that the standards programme will be a way to ensure they get it.

The first major part of the project is now ended and the survey is now closed. Project Manager, Tom Leavesley, and team are now working through the data to analyse the results and extract the important and salient points for further discussion.

In association with the Male Survivors Partnership, LimeCulture CIC have formally launched the Male Survivors Survey and we are looking to collect the thoughts, reflectons and oppinions of male survivors across the UK.

If you are a male survivor of sexual abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, or sexual violation of any kind, are over 18 years old, we want to hear from you.

All responses to this survey will be treated in the strictest confidence and fully anonymised. You (or the responses you provide) will not be identifiable as part of this project.

Responses will be stored in our secure data server in an area accessible only to the LimeCulture research team. All identifiable information will be deleted from our server when the research is complete at the end of September 2017

This survey will be open for an 8-week period. The survey opens on Friday 21 July and closes on Friday 15 September 2017.

To access the survey, please click here.

Yesterday, Lime Culture CIC hosted two research engagement events, the first with providers of services for survivors and the second with commissioners of these services, as part of the male service standards project.

Stephanie Reardon, Joint Chief Executive of LimeCulture CIC, opened the day by welcoming all and introducing the session agenda. This was followed by Duncan Craig, Chief Executive of Survivors Manchesterand one of the founders of the Male Survivors Partnership, giving an overview of the history of MSP and explaining the governance arrangements of this particular project.

The first session, which was with providers of specialist sexual assault and abuse services, was facilitated by Stephanie, with input from LimeCulture’s Project Manager, Tom Leavesley, and Programme Manager, Becky Dewey-York.

Delegates in the session included MENding, Safeline, RASA, Family Matters, Survivors Manchester, Sunderland Counselling Service, East Kent Rape Crisis Centre, Aylesbury Vale Rape Crisis, Galop

Alongside Stephanie Reardon asking questions and gathering oppinion, those present discussed, amongst other things:

  • The importance of ensuring male survivors get the higest quality of care and support
  • What quality looks like for boys and men?
  • The need for services to understand the difference in working with males, than working with females
  • The worry that standards can become a tick box or they can be too much for a service to undertake
  • The desire for there to be more opprtunities for men and boys to get help across the UK

In the afternoon, we were honoured to sit with key representatives from NHS England and Police and Crime Commissioners from such areas as Sussex, Essex , Lincolnshire , Thames Valley , Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, West Yorkshire and Surrey. This time, discussions were had themed as being about:

  • Governance
  • Partnership working
  • Not stifling innovation
  • Benchmarking
  • Responsibility of commissioning versus providing services

Both session were hugely important and Lime Culture and Duncan Craig, on behalf of the Male Survivors Partnership thanked all involved for committing to create change and make the UK a better place for male survivors.

The first meeting of the Male Survivors Partnership (MSP) Programme Management Group (PMG) was held in Birmingham yesterday to monitor the progress of the development of quality standards for services supporting male survivors of sexual violence.

Chaired by Survivors Manchester’s CEO, Duncan Craig, the PMG consisted of founding MSP members: Survivors UK’s CEO –  Andy Connolly; Mankind’s CEO – Martyn Sullivan; and Safeline’s CEO – Neil Henderson.

As the MSP have commissioned LimeCulture CIC to undertake the research, development and delivery of the Quality  Standards, LimeCulture’s Joint CEO, Stephanie Reardon; Programme Manager, Becky Dewey-York; and Project Manager, Tom Leavesley; were in attendance at the meeting, leading the MSP through a full  agenda that included the background to the project, the key deliverables, male survivor/commissionaire and professional engagement, the project plan, budget and risk register.

The meeting emphasised the importance of survivor engagement in helping to develop the quality standards, the engagement of all services involved in supporting male survivors of abuse and the need for transparency throughout the life of the the project.

Reflecting on this first meeting Duncan said

“It has been a dream of mine for so many years that those of us that work with male survivors can come together with the expressed aim of advancing the support and treatment of male survivors in the UK. Today showed me that dreams can come true”.

Founding MSP member, Neil Henderson said

“this is a survivor led project that aims to ensure that for those organisations that chose to support male survivors, understand the specialist support that is required to help them recover and encourages them to develop that professional and ethical expertise so that male survivors can move on from their abuse”.

Lime Culture’s Project Manager, Tom Leavesley concluded

“as a survivor that has first hand experience of the variety of support available to us males, its really exciting that along with my colleagues at LimeCulture, I get to help shape the positive future for men like me”.

The MSP would like to thank Lloyds Bank Foundation for their support in funding this project; and are grateful to Home Office, Ministry of Justice and NHS England for recognising the importance of this project.

PMG Documents: