Child sex abuse charity faces closure after Redbridge Council cuts

Shelley Daldy, right, Step Up head of counselling and co-founder, pictured with her daughter youth m

Shelley Daldy, right, Step Up head of counselling and co-founder, pictured with her daughter youth mentor Lucy Daldy - Credit: Archant

A charity which helps child sex abuse victims overcome their trauma may be forced to close after being hit by funding cuts.

Step Up, founded by the mother of Lucy Daldy, a former winner of the Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club Young Citizen Award, could shut as soon as next month, following Redbridge Council’s decision to axe its £30,000 annual grant.

Staff have held a series of fundraisers to try and meet the shortfall, but believe a guaranteed grant is the only way the charity can survive long-term.

Shelley Daldy knows the importance of the work Step Up does, as she founded it in 2003 after her daughter Lucy was sexually abused by a family friend – when she was just eight years old.

“It’s devastating because you build up that trust [with victims] and we expect clients to be with us for two years – it’s not a quick six-week fix,” said Shelley, 53.

“It’s a desperate situation, we are frantically trying to find funders who can help us.”

Step Up, Rainham Road South, Dagenham, helps about 120 victims a year across London and the south east, providing one-to-one counselling and drop-in sessions, as well as internet and telephone support.

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Although the service receives £10,000 a year from both Children in Need and Lloyds respectively, the £30,000 shortfall has left a big hole in its finances.

“What we need is funding which can tide us over for the next two years so we have time to apply for other funding,” explained Shelley.

“This is long-term work. We work with very vulnerable kids and we need to offer continuity.

“I completely believe in the work we do; I think if we can help a whole family we can solve so many problems.”

She urged businesses to come forward and offer “a lifeline”.

Lucy, who grew up in Hainault and now works as a youth mentor at the charity, said: “Step Up is the only specialist service in the area that works with the entire family.

“We have a deep and thorough understanding of sexual abuse and the isolation it causes. Without our services and the invaluable support we offer, many families and children would suffer.”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said funding had been withdrawn due to the need to “meet budget savings”.

“We tailor support packages to each child’s needs and make sure they are always referred to a service which can provide the help that they need,” he added.

To donate to Step Up, call the shop on 020 8517 5880.

‘Step Up are like a family to me’

A mum whose son was abused by another child has said she could not have got through the ordeal without Step Up’s support.

Her boy, who was a baby at the time, was subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse by an older child over several years.

The mum, who lives in Dagenham, began a two-year counselling course at Step Up, consisting of weekly one-to-one counselling, group sessions and days out with her child, as part of the rehabilitation process.

“It’s helped him even more than me,” she said. “But I needed to learn how to be with him again.

“You don’t ever imagine that this will happen to your own child.”

Her son became angry following the abuse and was doing badly at school. But the work of teachers and Step Up combined have helped him to turn a corner.

“We wouldn’t have been able to get through it at all without them,” she added. “We’re part of a family.

“It really upsets me to think of it closing, it’s the only place in the area for help like this.”

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