Beyond survival: resource for organisations working with child abuse survivors

This toolkit provides resources to enable survivor support organisations become more sustainable.

Part Four: Case studies

Mind Mosaic Counselling and Therapy

Mind Mosaic is a charity within Inverclyde offering Counselling and Therapy support for Adult Survivors of psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

The challenge

Increasing numbers of clients requiring support from a broad range of Survivor Counselling and Therapy services, together with the needs of funders and partnerships encourages us to look at the sustainability of our business model. As we grew along with demand, more administrative and business tasks were being handled by Counsellors. More work was also needed to support local partnerships, developing these for the long term and having funding to continue to drive Trauma Informed Awareness across our networks and the Inverclyde community.

What we did

It made sense to employ someone with Business Management experience and skills to review business aspects of the charity and enable Therapists to focus on delivering survivor services. This extra capacity enabled robust new planning and reporting systems to be introduced.

Managers used a logic model to reassess Mind Mosaic’s outcomes, and align them to the Beyond Survival outcome framework. An evaluation plan was then developed to ensure that key outcomes were measurable and able to be analysed. Counsellors in the team looked at key survivor data related to these, to measure the effectiveness of services, anticipate the needs of survivors, enhance existing services and develop new services for the future.

This allowed Counsellors to focus on delivering Counselling and Therapy, and administration staff to increase their activity in developing partnerships and raising the profile of Trauma Informed education across Inverclyde. This will contribute to having a Trauma Informed community with a broad range of bespoke support services available for all.

The difference it made

Allocating skilled subject matter experts allowed us to define measurable outcomes that met the needs of survivors and partnerships and contributed to developing a long-term sustainability plan. Analysing data helped Therapists to understand the changing demands and needs of survivors, so they can develop new and existing service offerings that will meet the needs of clients and partnerships. This will help to build for the future, with survivor feedback also informing training plans, to enhance the skills of all staff to meet survivors’ needs.

What we learned

Allocating appropriate skills to allocated tasks and giving people the time to clearly define measurable outcomes (at Client, Service, Business and Partnership levels) enables an organisation to analyse data and make positive and constructive changes across the charity. This allows managers to create and implement a meaningful sustainable business plan. Utilising the logic model and evaluation plan to define a strong management system was key to these successes.

A sustainable business model is not just being able to offer counselling and therapy support but also requires the charity to analyse data to understand the changing demand and requirements of Survivors to enable services to be developed, improved and implemented.’

SAY Women

SAY Women is a voluntary sector organisation that provides support to young survivors (16 – 25 years) of child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual violence/abuse, who are also at risk of or experiencing homelessness. SAY Women provides supported accommodation, 1:1 emotional support and groupwork. A national training service also provides training on child sexual abuse and related issues, such as self-harm. SAY Women is a membership organisation ‘ open to individual women who agree with the objectives of the organisation and have a positive interest in the promotion and development of SAY Women and services for sexually abused women and children.’

Support reflects Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery model, which identifies 3 stages of recovery;

  • Establishing Safety
  • Remembrance and Mourning
  • Reconnection


A holistic service, based in feminist theory, SAY Women were conscious that whilst individual support achieved high results in the first two stages, more could be provided in relation to the ‘reconnection’ stage.

This stage not only supports survivors to connect with internal emotions and conflicts, but also requires a dialogue between survivors and their communities. Ideally this dialogue results in the community responding positively to survivors’ experiences, increasing the survivors feeling heard and reducing risk within the community. This not only provides survivors with the opportunity to reassess their responses to potential danger, but for some can provide the opportunity for what Herman recognised as “survivor mission”, where survivors, “recognize a political or religious dimension in their misfortune and discover that they can transform the meaning of their personal tragedy by making it the basis for social action.” (Herman, 2001)

What we did

In 2017 SAY Women secured funding for a Volunteer Support Worker to provide learning opportunities for the women, including the development of an advisory group to the Board of Directors. In preparation for the recruitment of the worker, SAY Women encouraged the women to become members of the organisation. Many of the women quickly embraced this opportunity, engaging on a number of levels, including voting at the Annual General Meeting, creating a blogging group for SAY Women’s website.

The difference it made

SAY Women will gain as an organisation from the input of survivors to their structures and development, increasing the opportunity to provide appropriate services. This will not only ensure higher success rates for the women using services, but also improve the organisation’s sustainability by ensuring continuing relevance to the recovery of survivors.

The Moira Anderson Foundation

The Moira Anderson Foundation is a Scottish charity based in Airdrie. We support people affected by Childhood Sexual Abuse ( CSA). We offer a range of services, including: one-to-one support, counselling, complimentary therapies, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, group work and peer support groups.

The challenge

Our ongoing challenge is the year-on-year increase in the number of people seeking support. We also notice spikes in referrals when people in the public sphere disclose CSA, for example when a number of footballers disclosed that they had been victims of CSA there was an unprecedented spike.

Without adapting the service, these spikes would have meant clients waiting longer than our three-week target for an initial appointment. Delays in seeing clients could have had a reputational impact on the Foundation and a detrimental effect on potential clients.

What we did

We are aware that making the first call or giving a service provider permission to refer to our specialised centre, was a huge step for clients on their recovery journey. We wanted to be able to see people quickly for their first appointment and offer them support whilst waiting on counselling or other services. We didn’t have the financial capacity to immediately engage additional staff or staffing hours. Instead, we reviewed and re-structured the way in which we worked on a temporary basis and continued our ongoing fundraising activities to enable us to engage additional support staff.

The difference it made

The short-term re-arrangement of tasks resulted in Client Support Officers offering 10 additional appointments a week. This was a short-term solution that enabled us to keep our commitment to offering appointments quickly, and uphold our reputation.

We were also successful in attracting additional funding for one full time post. Additionally, as a result of being presented as a Comic Relief beneficiary, we have been adopted as British Airways charity of the year, enabling us to engage additional hours of support and therapy. This experience has galvanised our commitment to continue offering quality services, uphold our reputation, and seek additional funding so that we can be responsive to unexpected peaks in referrals. We have an ongoing commitment to grow the service in response to year-on-year demand and support the needs of our staff and service users.

Clients comment on our response times, often in comparison to other services. Comments include , 'I was surprised at how quickly I was offered an appointment' and, 'I was so pleased to get an appointment as quickly as I did, waiting would have been very difficult for me'.

What we learned

We have learned that with the goodwill of staff, flexibility of thinking and keeping clients’ interests at the heart of what we do, we can respond to need created by external events. As an Investors in People Gold Award organisation we take pride in taking care of our staff. This is mutually beneficial, as seen in the staff response to adapt to unprecedented numbers of referrals.


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