The team at Open Secret was thrilled to see a positive response to our first ever election hustings, which took place on Thursday 21st April at the Falkirk Trinity Church.
The event, titled “What Can Scotland Do for Survivors?” saw panellists discussing a range of questions sourced from survivors of childhood trauma and abuse and the professionals who work with those survivors.
The panel was made up of candidates for the upcoming Scottish Parliament election, including representatives for the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and one independent candidate.
The panellists were well-received by a lively audience who had plenty of questions – and even some contributions of their own!
Callum Laidlaw, Scottish Conservatives: “Open Secret is charity that does fantastic work not just in Falkirk but across Scotland, helping survivors of some of the most harrowing abuse. I was delighted to support their first ever hustings and was pleased to find my fellow political participants working together to develop consensus and was humbled by the contributions from the audience. Tackling child sexual abuse and its consequences is something that requires greater awareness and secure funding something I would do my best to support if elected.”
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour: “It was a privilege to take part in the hustings. Although I was there to answer the questions I learned a lot too by listening to survivors and those who support the work of Open Secret. The Scottish Parliament must give higher priority to survivors in the next term and I'm committed to working alongside groups like Open Secret to push for this if I am elected. There is a real concern that continued austerity will make this work harder; that's why Scottish Labour will use the powers of the parliament to invest in communities and public services.”
Eileen Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrats: “Thank you for hosting the Open Secret hustings in Falkirk. I agree with your view that it is important for politicians to hear the voice of abuse survivors. I hope this voice will be remembered in the next Scottish Parliament and that our society can provide good support for present survivors and protect others from abuse.”
Angus MacDonald, Scottish National Party: “I was delighted to take part in the Open Secret hustings last week. A number of salient points were raised which will require action by the new Government, not least the issue of ensuring funding for the In Care Survivors Service Scotland (ICSSS), provided by locally based charity Open Secret. It was clear from the feelings expressed at the hustings that this issue has to be looked at again by the incoming Government. If re-elected on Thursday I look forward to continuing to work with Open Secret to help move the service forward.”
Deryck Beaumont, independent: “I do not have experience of dealing with recovery of Childhood Abuse Survivors but I have had experience of what it means and how it impacts lives for the survivor, their families and even their abusers. In preparing for this evening I came across a quote on the Open Secret website that 1 in 4 children suffer serious maltreatment in childhood. This for me was a shocking revelation – shocking not just for the suffering during childhood, but for the effect on the rest of their lives. The impact can be catastrophic unless and until dealt with and recovered from. Real needs needed to be addressed on a real approach that deals with each and every case in a holistic fashion on a case by case basis.”
Open Secret would like to thank all of the panellists for their participation, and Dr Sarah Nelson for her role as moderator of the panel.
- Open Secret is a community-based organisation and registered Scottish charity No. SC024065 providing confidential support to individuals and families affected by childhood abuse and trauma for over 22 years, with services available across Forth Valley.
- Parties invited to participate at the hustings include (in alphabetical order): RISE, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Conservative Party, Scottish Green Party, Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Liberal Democrat party, Scottish National Party, Solidarity, UK Independence Party, and independent Central list candidate Deryck Beaumont.
- Scottish Green Party candidate Gary Dunion was also scheduled to attend as a panellist, but was unable to attend due to a medical emergency.