Creating smiles for Scotland’s children

Balmoral Clock Tower (1)

The Heart of Scotland’s capital lights up to show support for Scotland’s children.

Creating smiles for Scotland’s children

The Balmoral, Edinburgh’s iconic landmark hotel, has turned it’s famous clock tower blue this weekend to show support for Children 1st’s campaign to highlight the impact and scale of child abuse in Scotland, and launch their year-long partnership with Children 1st – Scotland’s National Children’s Charity. Following the hotel changing colour, the baton was passed to Edinburgh Castle which was also floodlit in blue on Saturday evening, lighting up the heart of Scotland’s capital to demonstrate support for Scotland’s children.

Scotland’s national children’s charity, Children 1st’s #createasmile campaign asks people to show Scotland’s children they all deserve lives free from abuse and neglect. The charity is asking people to go online and create a unique smiling child’s face and share it on social media.

The campaign aims to send a message of hope that children and families who have suffered abuse or neglect can recover from their experiences and find new reasons to smile.

Children 1st Chief Executive, Alison Todd said “A high number of children in Scotland are affected by abuse every year. Without the right support, the experience of abuse can be devastating – but it doesn’t have to be that way.  At Children 1st we help children and their families across Scotland to move on from their traumatic experiences and rediscover their hopes and dreams. We’re asking the public to show their support for children who have experienced abuse by joining our #createasmile campaign.”

There were over 5,000 offences of sexual abuse and cruelty against Scotland’s children last year. *

*Scottish Government recorded crime statistics.

Commenting on the partnership, The Balmoral’s General Manager, Richard Cooke, said:

“We’re thrilled to be supporting Children 1st and their efforts to help children in Scotland. As a family run business, we know how important it is to provide a welcoming, safe environment for little ones and we have been incredibly impressed with the charity’s efforts to support families in difficult times. Our iconic clock tower can be seen for miles across Edinburgh so we hope that by lighting up blue, we will attract attention and raise as much awareness as possible for this worthwhile cause.”

Claire Mackie, community fundraiser at Children 1st, said: “Children 1st are delighted that the Balmoral Hotel have selected us as their charity of the year. We are very grateful for their support, particularly of our #createasmile campaign. Unacceptably there are currently 2,751 children at risk of serious harm or neglect in Scotland. If you agree that this is unacceptable, #createasmile today and send a message that Scotland’s children deserve lives free from abuse and neglect.”

Every day, Children 1st is supporting children, their families and carers to recover from the physical and emotional impacts of abuse. The charity help children who have been abused to overcome feelings of helplessness and trauma by providing a welcoming, safe and creative environment to work through their past experiences. Our trauma recovery workers support children and their families to understand they are not to blame, to believe in themselves, re-discover their confidence and know that they can have some control over the direction of their future.

Millie’s Story

Millie’s story shows that recovery is possible even from the worst experiences.

Millie* was abused by an adult cousin from age five. She was well into her teens before she was able to tell someone, and the police able to act. That was when Children 1st began to support her.

“As any five year old would, I put my trust in my cousin because he was an adult. But he took advantage of me and made me feel like it was all my fault. He said if I told anyone I wouldn’t be his ‘special little girl any more’, he also said I would go to prison and be in a lot of trouble.

Over the years it had been getting worse as he was doing more stuff to me. I was 17 before it stopped. When one of my young cousins came to visit I got worried about what might happen and wanted to protect her.

I spoke to my auntie and we went out in the car with my mum. I told them what had been happening. A few days later my mum phoned the police and they came and interviewed me and took statements.

It was a difficult time and my doctor put me in touch with Children 1st. Thanks to them I was able to confront my cousin and show him I’m in power not him.”

 Millie recently wrote to her Children 1st worker:

“I hope you understand this took a lot of courage and inspiration. I got all my inspiration from you. I really appreciate all the help you have gave me. If it wasn’t for you and Children 1st I don’t think I would have been here where I am today.”

 * Names and some details have been changed to protect confidentiality

 Abuse and neglect in childhood can leave lasting emotional scars but with the right support recovery is possible. It takes time, empathy, commitment and consistency. All of which Children 1st provide.

To sign up and show your support visit www.createasmile.org.uk

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