This month funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Barnardo’s Cymru Seraf Service and Valley and Vale Community Arts, launched the exhibition entitled ‘Hear our Voice’ at the Wales Millennium Centre.
This exhibition is about young people’s experiences, their relationships, the dangers of sexual exploitation and how through the therapeutic arts they have been able to explore, process and overcome traumatic events.
The Seraf Service and Valley and Vale Community Arts have been working alongside TAN dance in using dance as not only an art form but as a educational tool for raising awareness around Child Sexual Exploitation. The dance group opened the event with a powerful piece about sexual exploitation.
As part of the exhibition we showed three films made by young people directly affected by child sexual exploitation.
I was 12, My Story, Getting Through
Lisa Ambrose (Therapeutic Arts Co-ordinator from ARTS4U) and Katja Stiller (filmmaker and counsellor from Valley and Vale Community Arts), used a person centred approach whereby young people are central to the experiential process, enabling them to process past painful and traumatic events.
The young people were able to creatively express and visually explore through film making their past memories and experiences. This empowering process enabled them to not only express themselves and their feelings, but also to regain a sense of control in their lives.
A place to stay! Somewhere safe to be!
A Place to stay! Somewhere safe to be! is a short monologue written by Emma James (Manager of Barnardo’s Cymru Seraf Service) based on her experience working with boys who have been sexually exploited. Directed by Ali Franks (Drama Development worker) the talented actor Brandon Ashford moved the audience by giving a seldom heard account of a young mans experience of child sexual exploitation.
As part of our Preventative Work we worked with a group of ten young people from the Czech Roma community around raising awareness of risks of child sexual exploitation. The sessions were held over a six-month period and focused on identifying negative and positive relationships, building self-esteem and how to keep safe. The girls had the opportunity to explore and to express themselves using different art forms. Their work, dance, music, art, creative writing all come together in their video ‘I am a girl’.
The following comments are from the participants:
‘I look forward to the group every week! I really enjoy dancing and I have learnt a lot’. Greta, 13
‘I like us all being together. Its important we learn what to and not to do, to keep safe’. We need to keep safe and look out for each other’. Sara,14
‘It’s fun, exciting and interesting. I’ve learnt a lot. It’s helped me to talk when I feel sad about things’. Vanessa,13
Some extracts of the speeches:
“The young people here seek to teach us what we need to learn in order to keep children and young people safe.” – Sam Clutton, Assistant Director, Policy at Barnardo’s Cymru
“The exhibition and the performances and art work demonstrates how young people can become empowered through arts, given the freedom to express what you often can not put in words… We recognise that young people need the opportunities to use their voice to tell practitioners and people they can trust about their experiences…” – Deputy Minister for Health Paul Gethin
“I was told it is very powerful but it is more than powerful it is truthful it is very honest. It affected me, as I sat here listening to the stories, seeing the performances, the singing at the end… You are really reaching out. We often talked about the power of young people’s voices. We have seen it and we have heard it today. ” – Keith Towler Children’s Commissioner
“These young people have been extremely brave. The courage of these young people needs to be applauded. They are showing us how to deal with this huge problem of child sexual exploitation. We need to do that all together, young people, professionals, organisations, government,children’s commissioner, everybody, friends, family. I hope you learnt about what is happening, please keep listening and help to eradicate this most vile abuse of children and young people.” – Yvonne Rogers Director of Barnardo’s Cymru
Barnardo’s Seraf service in partnership with Ffotogallery have been working with young people who have experienced first hand the devastating effects of sexual exploitation. The photographs and art work produced by the young people in different project were exhibited as part of the launch and gave visitors further insight into the feelings and emotions of the young people.
Also exhibited were tools we produced for early educational and preventative work with primary school aged children. A short song and narrative around safe and unsafe touch has been created and performed by the puppet Jack Children are encouraged to talk their experience in a safe environment to break down the walls of silence around sexual abuse. This resource is aimed at primary school aged children and can be used as a tool to support children who have experienced abuse, where there is suspected abuse and safeguarding children from sexual exploitation.
We want to say a very big thank you to the young people who have been brave enough to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings.
Comments in Guest Book
Excellent! Very powerful. Thank you – Carin MC Miocviz
Thank you a well presented morning. A very, powerful message. Thank you to all who made it possible for us to hear. – Brenda Culff ( Ysgol Coed y Gof)
Incredible powerful and moving – Mcotryn Ingram Wales & CU
OMG. So powerful My boys were blown away by the performances. – Theresa Sullivan Cardiff Youth Service Eastmoors
Thank you for the invitation it was very insightful and powerful also beneficial to our role. 🙂 – Vicky Evans Marc Llyod Dalling Hillside Secure Unit
Thank you for having us, very enjoyable. We learnt loads – Tan Dance
Wonderful exhibition the girls will remember this for a long, long time. Thank you – Ysgol Bryn Alyn Youth work in Education
Excellent! Barnardo’s you have brought reality to this issue – Steve Chapman Anti Slavery Co-ordinator Welsh Government
Superb, emotive, moving – great event – Debarah Campbell Safeguarding in Education Policy Welsh Government
So powerful and meaningful to hear and see these stories directly from the young people- their courage is incredible. – Molly Rhihneolent Barnardo’s Child & Family Bereavement Service
Fantastic- Hard hitting Brave, gave me lots to think about, anyone needs to listen – Jaye Samuel Barnardo’s child and family Bereavement services
Awesome, powerful presentation. Thank you – Rob Miles Music Dev Cardiff
Powerful and moving event to raise an important issue – Emma Caeed Music Dev Cardiff
The most powerful voices are heard and seen in this exhibition – Keith Towler Children’s Commissioner
Mind blowing the young people have been so brave – Gwen Jones Barnardo’s Housing for young people
Very well done for presenting such a delicate topic with such disarming honesty, preserving the power of the message which I think hit home to everyone here! – J Dixion Music Dev Cardiff
Great show, full of powerful imagery and horrendous stories, this has got to be put out there to make more people aware. – Simon Broughton
Amazing as always so proud to be associated to the Seraf Family and all the work that you do. x – Sam Clutton
Fantastic Work! – Hatdyar Ffotogallary