Two Mackie Academy students wanted to share the stories of people who have survived abuse to kickstart conversations and overcome stigma.
Abbey and Ailsa secured £3000 for Rape Crisis Grampian at their school’s virtual YPI final. The funding will be used to purchase devices for the charity’s volunteers so support services can continue virtually.
The girls have shared leaflets from the service across the school to ensure information is accessible for their peers.
“Sexual and domestic abuse isn’t something people really talk about. We wanted to spread awareness and use the stories of men and women who had been supported by Grampian Rape Crisis to try and help people understand it better.
“We also wanted to overcome the stigma around it. Many men suffer sexual abuse which people don’t realise. Many women are attacked by people they know. Many people don’t fully know that what they are experiencing is sexual abuse.
“It was a really eye-opening experience. It felt awkward to talk about but we hope that by doing this presentation, we can spark conversations. You don’t know who might have experienced something they need support with and the more openly people talk about the better.”
For their presentation, the team prepared a stop-start animation video which shared key phrases and information. They discussed the findings of their research and impact of the grant throughout the video.
“YPI is a really good thing to do. You develop new skills, like calling a charity, doing research, making a video, and doing a presentation. I was really anxious about presenting and really proud of what we did. We worked well together as a team and got to use our skills to make the video.”
Mackie Academy has taken part in YPI for more than 10 years, with their students being responsible for more than £30,000 of charitable grants to North-east charities.
Nicoleta Ciubotariu, Depute Manager at Rape Crisis Grampian, said:
“The YPI is a wonderful initiative as it gives young people the opportunity to learn more about the causes they are passionate about and the work charities do. Furthermore, it is also very beneficial for charities to get involved with young people and get the chance to receive additional funds.
“We are delighted to have received £3000 after a group of amazing and dedicated pupils from Mackie Academy approached us, had a meeting with our manager and put together and delivered a detailed and passionate presentation about the work we do. The grant is very welcome, especially when we are in the middle of a pandemic and many people struggle with isolation and have less access to their usual support networks. We are using the grant money to buy phones and top-ups for our 18 volunteers so they can offer remote support to people who have experienced trauma resulting from sexual violence. Thanks to this grant, we can reach more survivors at once and reduce considerably the waiting time for them.
“Not only this initiative helped us do more in terms of supporting survivors, but also another massive benefit for us is that young people discuss sexual violence, which is often considered taboo. These young people contribute to breaking the stereotypes and myths around rape and sexual abuse among their peers and initiating a much-needed conversation about healthy relationships, gender expectation, and victim-blaming attitudes. The pupils also provided information about empathetic, non-judgemental support and reassured survivors who may have been listening to their presentation that they are not alone.
“The YPI project has a vital importance for both charities and young people. Highlighting and speaking about important causes and raising awareness of the work that is being done and the support that is available are some of the most powerful aspects of the YPI.”
YPI is a programme of The Wood Foundation. More than 20 schools take part in the programme across the North-east each year, supported by local funding partner BP.