Director of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation becomes chair of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse
13 June 2023
We’re proud to announce that one of our directors has become the chair of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA).
Stuart Allardyce, who is responsible for Stop It Now! services in Scotland as well as research across the whole organisation, was elected NOTA chair at its annual conference in Cardiff, in May.
As chair, Stuart will lead the strategic direction for NOTA for the next two years, alongside the board, which includes key practitioners, policymakers, and researchers in the field.
The key to leading NOTA is to provide value to its 1,300 members so they can better protect the public from sexual harm. This includes ensuring that everyone is aware of current developments in practice, and emerging issues, as well as providing opportunities to collaborate and network.
“Working with people who present a risk of harm to others in society can be stressful, isolating and impactful work,” says Stuart. “I’ve found through NOTA training, conferences and events many opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues which have been incredibly affirmative and contributed to my resilience as a practitioner and manager.”
Exchanging knowledge and ideas
Stuart has worked in the child sexual abuse field since 2001 and has been a member of NOTA for 15 years. He says that knowledge exchange is at the heart of NOTA.
NOTA publishes the peer-reviewed academic publication Journal of Sexual Aggression three times a year, and NOTA News four times a year. It also runs local branches for members to link with other professionals working locally in the same field.
It also organises the largest annual UK conference on sexual abuse and violence each year, which is an ideal opportunity to create networks and collaborate. Like NOTA’s local branches, the conference is a space where practitioners can re-energise themselves through meeting inspiring and like-minded colleagues.
At the NOTA conference in Cardiff, Stuart closed the conference following his election as chair by reflecting on a presentation by a colleague, on trauma and sexual offending.
“She used a lovely metaphor at the end of her presentation through a picture of a mosaic of a person’s face, where she pointed out that at the end of the day, our trauma, is just one aspect of who we are,” he said. “It doesn’t define us. And this is also true of offending behaviour.
“We can’t change the fact that people who have committed sexual offences have caused genuine and often life-changing harm to individuals, families and communities. Our work is about supporting and challenging those who have caused harm to others. However, we must also recognise that the people we work with are human beings.
“Their offending behaviour doesn’t define who they are. We want those we work with to reach a place where they no longer think of themselves as sexual offenders, because they have moved on from that part of their life. And because they have all the support and knowledge to desist from reoffending and make a positive contribution to society.”
Opportunities on the horizon
It is an exciting time for NOTA. They are advertising for two survivor representatives for the board.
“As an organisation that focuses on sexual abuse and sexual violence, our work needs to be informed by the voices of survivors and people with lived experience,” said Stuart. “Ensuring that our conferences, training and events have value for survivors and survivor organisations is an incredible opportunity.”
He added that NOTA is in the process of planning a series of webinars that consider the different intersectional issues regarding sexual abuse and sexual offending, with the aim of being more inclusive.
“I feel that as an organisation, we have more to learn about how religion, ethnicity, culture as well as other factors such as disability or vulnerability impacts issues around sex being discussed and whether victims feel able to disclose sexual abuse or violence,” he said. “By understanding the issues, we can work to remove barriers – allowing more people to get the support they need as well as provide a more well-rounded and informed service.”
Joint event between NOTA and The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
A clear priority for the year ahead is building on international partnerships, such as its sister organisation in North America, ATSA. Stuart is also energised by a proposed joint event between NOTA and The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, that will look at what is currently known about preventing child sexual abuse in different settings – online, family, organisations, within schools, youth or sports clubs, and faith and belief communities.
Using findings from research, the event will look at how this evidence can inform the practical tools and approaches that front-line professionals need to be able to better protect children from harm, preventing abuse before it happens.
“We have a long history of working with NOTA, and many staff members have contributed to NOTA branches, committees and the board at different levels over the years.”
A motivated Stuart Allardyce concluded: “It’s been a long and positive collaboration, and I’ve no doubt that this will be further enriched in the future.”