Survivor of Rotherham sexual abuse scandal to speak during National Safeguarding Week
A SURVIVOR of the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal will share her story at one of a series of events held during National Safeguarding Week.
Beginning on Monday, this year’s programme, organised by the Cardiff and Vale Safeguarding Board, focuses on the theme of exploitation.
Sammy Woodhouse is the keynote speaker on Friday, November 17 when an all-day event will see presentations delivered by individuals from a range of agencies.
As a teen, Sammy suffered criminal and sexual exploitation.
Ten years ago, her story was published in the Times newspaper along with the revelation that 1,400 children had been abused and failed in Rotherham.
That has led to the biggest investigation in the UK being launched, overseen by the National Crime Agency.
In a programme for the BBC, Sammy said: “I was only 14 when I met a man called Arshid Hussain.
“He was 10 years older than me and from that moment he began grooming me.
“At the time, I didn’t see it for what it was. I thought that’s how love was supposed to be.
“I was 15 when I got pregnant. I was so excited to be a mum. But as I got older I started to understand what had happened to me.
“I remember when those thoughts first started running through my head. I was panicking about my son. I thought ‘what am I going to tell my son’. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“My son was only 12 when I had to tell him that his dad had raped and abused me and that’s how he was born.
“We both felt so alone and we didn’t know where to turn. There must be others out there feeling the same way.”
Sammy is now a best-selling author, international speaker, TV presenter, multi-award winning activist and leading voice against exploitation.
She has fought for better rights for exploited children as well as mothers and children born from sexual violence.
Her work includes the multi award-winning ‘Sammy’s law’ campaign which will ensure exploited children will not be criminalised.
Sammy also campaigned alongside others to ensure children born from sexual violence will be seen as victims within law which was successful and announced in 2023.
In April 2023 Sammy presented the ground-breaking BBC documentary ‘Out of the Shadows: Born from rape’.
During that programme, she travelled around the UK and to Rwanda to meet mothers and children born from rape and uncovers heartbreaking stories of love and pain.
For over a decade Sammy has been invited to speak to agencies who want to learn more on how grooming and exploitation of children can be prevented and supported.
National safeguarding week is an annual, national campaign focusing on a wide range of safeguarding issues affecting communities in Wales.
This year’s event runs until November 17, offering a packed five days of events organised for multi-agency professionals.
It culminates in the Cardiff and Vale Safeguarding Board’s Conference based on the theme of exploitation.
The conference, the first in-person event for a number of years, will consist of a number of presentations on the different forms of exploitation along with interactive workshops.
Cllr Eddie Williams, Vale o Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health, said: “Sammy’s story is a shocking one, but her bravery and resilience proves that positivity can come out of even the darkest situation.
“Her talk forms part of a packed programme of presentations put together for National safeguarding week. This is an important annual event for professionals working in a range of different areas as they come together to discuss ways to best protect some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
“It is by sharing ideas and learning that we can achieve this. I’m sure all those that attend will find the variety of presentations on offer stimulating and thought provoking.”
Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Social Services (Adults), Cllr Norma Mackie said: “National Safeguarding Week is an opportunity for organisations who work with vulnerable adults and children to come together to raise awareness of important safeguarding issues. But Safeguarding isn’t just an issue that applies to social workers or other professionals – it’s essential that we are all aware ofour duty to protect those in our communities who might be at risk of abuse or neglect.”
Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Social Services, (Children’s) Cllr Ash Lister, said: “Every child and adult in Cardiff has the right to live in a safe society, free from violence, fear, abuse, bullying or discrimination and we all have a role to play in achieving that. National Safeguarding Week is an important week in the calendar when multi-agency partners come together to learn best practice and share information, underlining our commitment to ensure that people living in Cardiff are safe and protected.”