A survivor of sexual and domestic abuse, founder Ashley realised that the crucial support needed for her recovery was not readily available.
The recovery process on which Ashley has developed the organisation is based on Judith Herman’s 3 stage model of recovery: establishing safety; telling your story; and reintegrating into the community. After undergoing stages one and two, Ashley found that support for the third stage was not well addressed. This inspired her to act.
Following support from Firstport business advisor Brian McMillan to strengthen her business model and £2700 funding from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund (SEF) Start It programme, she launched Thriving Survivors in April 2016. Thriving Survivors provide a unique service that delivers the much needed stage three support including providing training, volunteering and eventually employment opportunities.
In May 2016 the service ran its first group, which was fully subscribed. Several of the participants were subsequently trained by the programme to deliver similar sessions to give other survivors a second chance.
Ashley was awarded £20,000 through the SEF Build It programme in March 2017, which enabled Thriving Survivors to dedicate the time and energy needed to grow and scale the organisation, by allowing Ashley a full time salary in her role as Chief Executive for the year.
Since then Thriving Survivors has gone on to secure three years of core funding from the Scottish Government’s Survivor Support Innovation and Development Fund for its innovative programmes. Funding gives the organisation the ability to deliver more programmes across Greater Glasgow, with the aim of supporting over 150 survivors in 2017.
The company, which has been run with a small team of volunteers so far, is taking on five new members of staff to help with the organisation’s rapid growth.
Additional funding will allow Thriving Survivors to develop a peer to peer support group that will enable continued support and personal development for people who have taking part in their programmes. It will also provide a training bursary for volunteer and previous service user Donna Irvine as she gains her SCQF level 7 in developing community activities for developing and delivering this group. It is hoped that on completion Donna will move into paid employment within the organisation.
The core funding will also support setting up a creche facility for all group members, allowing the service to be available to everyone without the worry of childcare.
Finally, it will help the organisation to tackle the existing problem of people who slip through the net when they are in need of that extra support to move to the next stage of their recovery. Thriving Survivors will do this by growing existing partnerships and developing new ones to establish a lasting collaborative approach to supporting survivors of physical and emotional trauma.
Ashley said: “My journey with Thriving Survivors has been nothing short of incredible. In the beginning I always said if this would help just one person then it will have been worthwhile, but having worked with over 60 men and women across Glasgow so far, words simply cannot explain how happy I am that I took a leap of faith and believed in my own abilities. Thriving Survivors was part of my recovery from the past, now it is the future.”
Most recently Ashley was shortlisted as a finalist in The Scottish Women’s Awards 2017 for services to third sector and charity.
Ashley praised the faith which Firstport had placed in her by providing the initial funding for her project. She added: "I knew from bitter experience that there was a lot of help which people unfortunate enough to find themselves in the position I was once in needed, and was simply not there for them to access.
“Firstport listened, provided the seed funding and Thriving Survivors, and more importantly all of the survivors that we will support, will be eternally grateful that Firstport was there for us."
Find out more about Thriving Survivors on their website.