Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Domestic abuse workers win Philip Lawrence award

A group of young campaigners have won a prestigious award for their work with people affected by domestic abuse.

Voice Against Violence, founded by eight young Scots who have experienced domestic abuse, has won a Philip Lawrence award.

It is named after a London head teacher who was murdered by a 15-year-old while trying to protect a pupil in 1995.

The group has launched campaigns, grassroots research and opened a dialogue with the Scottish government.

Voice Against Violence has also produced a film and booklet to be sent to every school and youth organisation, as well as a film created for the Scottish government.

The project was founded in 2009 by a group of "young experts" to tell people in power what needs to change to improve the lives of children.

One of the founding members, who wishes to remain anonymous, told BBC Scotland how she fled with her mother from domestic abuse when she was younger.

Chloe, not her real name, said: "My mum finally saw sense and called one of her friends who came to pick us up.

"We only had two black bags between us, that was our belongings."

The 18-year-old said: "We then went to Women's Aid and we never looked back.

"If I hadn't experienced domestic abuse I wouldn't have the first clue how anyone else is feeling.

"You can relate to how young people are feeling and what they are thinking."

She added: "We advise ministers and Cosla on what needs to change in the eyes of young people.

"We go to women's refuges, we go to support workers, just to see how things are going.

"Do they have enough support workers? Are there enough refuges? And then we report back to the government.

"I was totally overwhelmed when I heard we had won this award and just felt really humbled.

"We obviously know that the work we do is very special to us. It is not a job for us. It's always something I have wanted to do, to help people

"So to get recognised for that is absolutely amazing."

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