Firstly, a massive thank you to all who read and responded to last week’s blog. I hadn’t gotten as far as anticipating reactions to those memories when I typed them, but the many messages from survivors and loved ones of survivors who found some connection within them truly strengthened my resolve that I am on the right path for this long long journey ahead.
16 days to go…and so much yet to do…The launch itself is coming together. May 31st at 10am on London’s Southbank, outside the National Theatre. I would like to invite you all to come and walk the first mile with me. You’re welcome to walk with me as far as you wish but I will be heading to Crawley on day one, so you’ll need to keep up…If you’d prefer to join me on a more picturesque section of the walk, the route and timeline of where I’ll be when can be found on this site. Get in touch
I can’t express how deeply grateful I am to the many people who are now working with me to help ensure the Road to Change is a route to cause some discernible change. This week alone I was inundated with messages from well wishers, survivors and organisations that heard about the walk and have offered their time in any way they can assist. The plan feels like it’s coming together.
It’s such a simple idea, I think, walking to all the capital cities in the EU to raise awareness for the prevention and healing of child sexual abuse BUT even before I take the first step, I do realise that I can’t solve this problem. I never believed I could. No one person or organisation can, we all need to work together. Many survivors before me have bravely spoken out, many organisations are already doing incredible work providing services and making changes to communities almost in isolation, and yet children are still being abused tonight in the city or town or even street where you are as you read this. How do we stop it? Well this week, I received a wonderful call from Sheva Burton. She staged an inspirational rally in London in 1993 for all the same reasons I’m walking 10,000miles. Sheva has recently formed the group Join the dots. Another simple but beautiful idea. As I said, no one person holds the complete solution, but perhaps we all hold a bit of it. We need to work together, as a society, as a race, to fit the pieces of progress together and end the sexual abuse of children. Lets ‘Join the dots’, share best practice, collaborate and help each other, it’s the only way real lasting progress can be achieved. That is the aim of the Road to Change. It’s not a 10,000mile sponsored walk, it’s an 18 month 31 nation awareness campaign to get people talking, to Stop the Silence. The thick wall of silence that a child who has been violated builds around the memories to protect themselves from reliving it, the shameful silence of those who suspect a child is being abused but fail to report it as they’d prefer to ‘stay out of it’ and the endemic silence of our society as we forge on in the contained communities we find ourselves in when just a few hundred miles away others doing the same job might be making real advances, and we just don’t talk enough to realise it. The walk aims to get us all talking. Shine a light on areas where help is most needed and let those who are developing best practice share with the world what they’ve discovered. They can have all the credit for their amazing work, we just want to learn about it so we can make progress too.
So I walk to aid prevention of sexual abuse and for healing for all those who have been abused. 20,000,000 steps. That’s 10,000,000 on my right foot and 10,000,000 on my left. As I train in preparing for the event, I think to myself that every step forward on my right foot is a step forward for a survivor. Someone who knows all too well what child sexual abuse is and what it does to the rest of your life. Every step forward on my left is for a child who is not and will never be a victim, the ones who will never know what it is to be sexually abused because of the bravery of all the survivors who broke their silence and the efforts of so many wonderfully hardworking and underfunded organisations across the world who’s campaigning does work and have helped prevent an assault. 20,000,000 steps hopefully will in some way help us all step forward towards that attainable solution which can exist if we work together…I and we have a long way to go…but I believe we will get there.
Writing a blog every Sunday seemed a manageable task but as the beginning of the Road to Change draws nearer hours seem to evaporate…So, apologies for this short and three day late offering…Once I begin the actual walk, I’ll have 8 to 10 hours a day alone with my thought and can type on my handset as I amble on…
Still need to find the motorhome…real head scratcher…and of course I have nearly enough money to get me to Amsterdam, I need to keep raising those funds to get me all the way round every city on the route…it’s 1:44am and I leave in 16 days…leap and the net will appear…I’ve heard…
Giving an RTC talk at City of Glasgow College Riversde Campus, with organizer Sanjay Lago :)