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Safeguarding Advisory Panel

Recognising the need to work with and learn from people with lived experiences, we've established an Advisory Panel comprising individuals with lived experience of abuse, and others with experience of working in organisations hoping to combat abuse.

Our Safeguarding Advisory Panel aims to ensure those individuals who’ve suffered abuse and exploitation within sport not only have a voice, but can also help to improve safeguarding provision in sport and activity for children, young people and adults at risk.

The panel of eight comprises individuals with lived experience of abuse and others with experience of working with organisations to combat abuse.

It provides advice and support to us as Sport England and, where appropriate, funded organisations on aspects relating to safeguarding in sport.

The panel is co-chaired by Sheila Taylor MBE, chief executive of the NWG Network, a UK-wide charity tackling child sexual exploitation, alongside Professor Mike Hartill, director of the Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport at Edge Hill University – Jayne Molyneux, our director for children and young people, also sits on the panel.

The following panel members, each with lived experience of abuse, have consented to their biographies being shared:

Thomas Faulkner

Tom was sexually abused when aged about eight - the perpetrator was an older boy and the abuse took place following football games in the park.

This experience cause him great emotional, psychological and behavioural difficulties in his life that he wasn't able to begin addressing until the age of 53.

Following periods of counselling with Survivors Manchester, he was able to make progress towards recovery and has since qualified as a Person-Centred Counsellor and a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner.

Tom is passionate about using these experiences and his therapeutic knowledge to enthuse those struggling with lived experience to overcome their doubts and fears, access therapy, develop self-compassion, acknowledge their personal value and live life fully and freely in the present.

Tom has participated in the VOICE (Voices for Truth and Dignity) project and, as a member of the Safeguarding Advisory Panel, has spoken at conferences concerning sexual violence in sport.

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Karen Leach

One of the leading voices in international work against sexual abuse and harassment in sport, Karen is a safe sport advocate and an ambassador for VOICE (Voices for Truth and Dignity) project.

She's also a member of the Council of European Pool of Experts on Sexual Violence in Sport, an associate consultant to Safe Sport International, a member of Northern Ireland’s Safeguarding Children in Sport Strategic Group, as well as being a psychotherapist, facilitator and moderator.

As a child, Karen was recognised as a talented swimmer with strong aspirations and a realistic chance of representing Ireland at the Olympic Games. Between the ages of 10 and 17 Karen spent endless hours in the swimming pool.

During this time, Karen was routinely abused by her coach.

Since the publication of her lived experience in the book Deep Deception, Ireland’s Swimming Scandals, Karen has been speaking out across the world and advocating on behalf of children, young people, adults at risk and all athletes.

She’s working to create a greater level of awareness to encourage safer spaces for everyone at risk in sport, working regularly with national and international organisations in an advisory role on research, policy, procedures, law, in public speaking capacities, facilitating various group work and moderating events across the world.

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Dr Colin Harris

Dr Colin Harris is a recently retired academic and has held both research and teaching roles at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex

He played for Chelsea FC in the early 1970s. In November 2016 he disclosed that, during his time at Chelsea, he was sexually abused by his coach. Since then he’s sought to raise the profile of those with lived experience of abuse in sport, as well as advocating for a more prominent role for ‘survivors’ in developing policies for safer sport.

He anticipates the Sport England Safeguarding Advisory Panel will play a key role in supporting these issues.

Colin has been an ambassador for the EU-funded VOICE (Voices for Truth and Dignity) project and is a member of the FA’s Survivor Support and Safeguarding Advisory Panel.

He’s currently undertaking a qualitative research study exploring the life histories of male survivors of sexual abuse in football.

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Henrietta Rothman

Henrietta Rothman is married with five children and a Beagle. She moved to France when she was 18, plays the saxophone and the piano, and enjoys cooking, music, cycling and walking by the lake – she also teaches English and sells cards.

When she was seven years old, she was sexually abused at a tennis club in London.

Following this experience, and the difficulties that developed in her life as a result, she has battled with depression and food issues.

She’s fought for, and succeeding in getting, an acknowledgment and an apology from the club (her abuser is deceased).

Henrietta would like to be able to help others and promote awareness and understanding of abuse in sport, both in the UK and in France.

She participated in the VOICE (Voices for Truth and Dignity) project and helps on the Comité Ethique et Sport, in France.

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Ian Ackley

Ian is a survivor of football abuse.

This is all Ian wishes to declare in his biography.

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