Support group axed after funding snub

A LACK of funding has forced the closure of a support group which was set up by an Essex-based child abuse survivor and the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

Elliot Furniss

A LACK of funding has forced the closure of a support group which was set up by an Essex-based child abuse survivor and the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

Shy Keenan and Sara Payne established Phoenix Survivors two years ago to campaign for the victims of child abuse and offer them support.

Ms Keenan claims the service was promised funding by the Government which never materialised and the service shut down earlier this week.


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But the Home Office has said it never promised cash and was “disappointed” to hear the service had been cancelled.

The closure has left the pair hugely frustrated, especially as it was recently revealed that Circles UK, which helps reintegrate sex offenders into society, has been handed £164,000 a year by the Ministry of Justice.

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Ms Keenan said she was “utterly appalled” by the situation and the only people who should be working with paedophiles within the community should be the courts, the police and the probation services.

She said: “Sara and I are devastated. Despite all the promises made, we have been refused any Government funding to help paedophile victims recover their lives 'in a just and humane manner'.

“Finding the funding to advocate, support and help in the recovery of the victims of paedophiles has been a living nightmare for both Sara and I.”

She said they felt “excluded” from a society that forced them to pay for a paedophile recovery service while “completely ignoring” the plight of their victims.

She added: “The problem has become so dire that on Tuesday we launched a 10 Downing Street E-petition calling for paedophile victims to be included on the anti-discrimination laws in the hope that make it illegal to exclude us from the same kind of financial help and support given to convicted paedophiles would put a stop to this terrible and inhumane injustice.”

In response to the claims, a Home Office spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear that the Phoenix Survivors charity is closing. We are acutely aware of the appalling suffering and devastation that families experience when a child is sexually and physically and it is essential that every family affected receives the care and support that they need when they need it.”

She said the department had invested around £10m in the last four years in specialist services for victims of sexual violence and in particular the Survivors Trust, which offers support to adult and child survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

“In addition, the Government provides funding to RELATE and Victim Support, both of whom provide counselling and support to victims of sexual violence,” she added.

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