Abuse support charity rejects 'highly defamatory' newspaper claims

A charity that supports adult survivors of childhood abuse has defended itself against “unfounded and highly defamatory allegations” in news reports over the weekend.

The Times newspaper reported that a survivor support hotline operated by the National Association for People Abused in Childhood answered only 8.5 per cent of the calls over the past four years (£).

This reportedly led to thousands of calls going unanswered on the Home Office-funded hotline, while several former staff members were critical of how the charity spent some of the money it received from the government.

Napac said the pandemic had increased demand for its services but it had still responded to more than 65 per cent more emails than the previous year and 45 per cent of unique callers to its support line were connected.

But one victim claimed they had been trying to get through on Napac’s support line for almost a year and another unsuccessfully tried calling 53 times in one day.

In response, the Napac board of trustees said The Times article “contains several misleading claims and defamatory statements concerning the performance of our survivor support line and internal work culture”.

The statement said: “Firstly, we would like to reassure all survivors that Napac’s free and confidential telephone and email support services are constantly being reviewed and adapted to provide the best possible experience for all our clients.

“We acknowledge how difficult it is for people when they cannot get the support they need and deserve, especially considering the courage it takes to reach out to seek that support.

“The various call response figures quoted in the article are misleading as they do not consider the length of each call, repeat callers, survivors who contacted us via email, or the changes we have made over several years to keep improving the service for survivors.”

Napac defended the work of its leadership team, staff and volunteers and urged people to read its impact report for an “accurate information of its work”.

“At times Napac’s work can be highly emotive and distressing and is not suitable for everyone.

“It is disheartening for there to be unfounded and highly defamatory allegations of a negative workplace culture that attempt to detract from survivors and the support they deserve in the challenging work of recovering from past trauma.

“The real story here is the massive scale of childhood abuse, which runs through every section of our society, causing a huge public health issue,” the charity said.

“We all have survivors’ best interests at heart and we are wholly committed to supporting them, via our support line, our email service, our advocacy, and our expanding series of booklets and resources.”

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