Making waves

Our fearless CEO, Dr Mike Peirce MBE, talks to us about Paddle to Parliament, which will see him take to the water to raise awareness for victims of child abuse.

You’re planning on rowing from Wiltshire to the Houses of Parliament in London. Why?
For some 25 years I have had to battle all the way to raise funds for Southmead Project so that it can carry out its work with victims and survivors of child abuse. Very little of our funding has come from the statutory sector and we’ve received consistently dismal responses from Bristol City Council over those years. The clear message this sends out – to this charity and the people who cross our threshold seeking help with their plight – is that their pain, their anguish and their voice has neither  been acknowledged or heard. The message from Bristol City Council is that there is no budget from central government for the type of work we do – and so the situation will remain the same unless we get MPs from across the political spectrum to put aside politics and agree a centralised budget for the client group. Money can then be allocated to cities like Bristol and distributed accordingly.

Your brother, Terry, is joining you. What is his motivation?
Terry lived in the same house as me when we were children and, while he was not abused in any sexual ways, he obviously witnessed appalling domestic abuse and assault. This affected him in many ways and he is a champion for change. And he loves his brother!

Terry and I and many others across our country simply do not believe that children should be continually paying the price for ineptitude, denial, thoughtlessness and couldn’t-care-less attitudes from the government, or anyone else for that matter. There are appalling levels of abuse going on as I write this – in fact, reports suggest that every 10 minutes the police handle a call directly related to child sexual abuse from across the country. We need to get real here, as those children will grow into adults and it is these adults who will be crossing the thresholds of agencies like Southmead Project in the future.

When are you setting off and how long do you think it will take you?
We set off on 11 September 2017 at 10am from Caen Hill Locks and expect to arrive at the Houses of Parliament sometime on the 16 September.

How can people show their support for Paddle to Parliament?
We will be setting up a donation page closer to the start date –  stay in touch via the website or Twitter @SouthmeadProj