The Victim and Survivor Consultative Panel (VSCP)

The VSCP was established in 2015 as an integral part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). It is run in partnership with ARU, and hosted by the International Policing and Public Protection Research Institute (IPPPRI).

The VSCP is made up of six people, all of whom have lived experiences of child sexual abuse (CSA). They are powerful advocates of victims and survivors, and each member of the Panel brings their own individual wealth of experience, and unique insights and expertise, not only in the field of child protection, but across all sectors including health, education, and social work/care, which they are now able to share with colleagues across ARU.

Members of the VSCP have the potential to make significant and valuable contributions to a range of strategy, research and policy developments across the whole of ARU, and make substantive contributions to the Safe and Inclusive Communities and the Health and Wellbeing research themes.

The Panel aims to work proactively to support and enrich as much of ARU’s work as possible and appropriate, operating within three main spheres of Consultation and Collaboration; Knowledge Exchange; and Research and Practice Development.

Some examples of work that members of the VSCP have already started are:

  • working with the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Social Care to develop and improve practice for midwives working with victims/survivors of sexual violence
  • working with IPPPRI to develop an up-to-date glossary of preferred language around child sexual abuse and exploitation, and victims and survivors
  • delivering workshops and training to professionals on keeping the victim / survivor voice at the heart of research in that space.

You can find out more about the VSCP by emailing [email protected]


Fay Maxted

Fay started working in the sexual violence sector in 1996, managing a rape and sexual abuse support service. This role entailed recruiting, training and supporting volunteer counsellors working with survivors of any form of sexual violence/abuse from the age of 13 upwards.

Fay is a trained therapist (TA, NLP and Child and Adolescent Counselling) but not currently practising. She is also a PTLLS trainer for adult learning.

Fay joined the steering group for The Survivors Trust (TST) in 2000, and was appointed Chief Executive in 2003. TST now has 120+ specialist voluntary sector rape and sexual abuse support services member agencies across the UK and Ireland.

Fay is particularly interested in promoting trauma-informed practice and helped establish TST’s quality marks - Trauma Informed Educator and Trauma Informed Employer – which promote best practice in responding to victims/survivors of trauma.

Co-production is something Fay believes needs to be central to policy and service developments. She has worked on a number of projects supporting survivor involvement, including working with survivor focus groups and forums producing resources for survivors.

She is also very keen on research and has participated in a number of research advisory groups, including PROSPER, Making Noise, MiMOS, and We Matter Too.

Chris Tuck

Chris is a powerful and authentic public speaker, an author of three books, a media commentator, and an activist in the field of child abuse (especially child sexual abuse), bullying, and domestic violence.

She has extensive experience as a motivational keynote speaker, and is a professional trainer on topics such as trauma, abuse, and recovery, for both professionals and those impacted through lived experience.

Chris has experience of lobbying on child sexual abuse at senior government and corporate levels, and on social media platforms. She has lived experience of all forms of child abuse and neglect, having grown up in three domestic violent households.

For the last eight years, Chris has been an advisor to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as a member of the VSCP.

After a 20-year career as a Chartered Management Accountant at a senior level, Chris retrained as a trauma informed health and wellness practitioner, establishing both her own community business and founding and directing the charity Survivors of aBuse (SOB) (Registered Charity No. 116712).

Using her lived experiences, insight, and professional skill set, she created the psycho-educational Breaking The Cycle™ C.L.E.A.N.E.R™ Living Therapy Programme that empowers individuals to recover from trauma and reach their full potential.

Chris has hosted her own radio show and is a resident member on The Silenced radio show. She co-hosts her own weekly podcast and creates her own social media awareness campaigns around child sexual abuse and exploitation such as 'the myths and realities around child sexual abuse'. All can be accessed online.

In all the work she does and in her everyday life, Chris uses her voice, her lived experiences, and her insight to connect, communicate, and create positive, long-lasting change.

Kit Shellam
Kit has a particular interest in child sexual abuse (CSA) and its trauma impacts on disabled children through to their adulthood. Disabled children are three times more likely to be victims of CSA than their able-bodied peers.


Kit has lived, learned, and has professional experience of disability, including developmental or neurological conditions. For many years, he worked with adults with a range of disabilities such as intellectual, physical, and mental health conditions, as well as neurodiverse individuals.

Kit also has experience of writing blogs and opinion pieces on CSA and childhood vulnerabilities that are targeted by perpetrators.

May Baxter-Thornton

May is a survivor of child sexual abuse who has spent the last five years working as a consultant for the IICSA.

May is an experienced trainer for the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, with a focus on working with survivors and intrafamilial abuse. She has a background of supporting victims, and has previously been employed as an advocate for sex working women in South Wales.

May was a Project Worker at the Marie Collins Foundation, where her duties involved working on a range of projects both nationally and internationally, as well as being a representative at PIER.

May will use all her knowledge and experience to ensure the response to victims of technology-assisted child sexual abuse is one that is based in evidence, promotes recovery, and – above all else – does no further harm.

Sheila Coates

In 1984, Sheila established SERICC – Rape and Sexual Abuse Specialist Services – based in Essex. SERICC is the lead partner of the Synergy Essex Rape Crisis Partnership, providing 33,890 one-to-one counselling sessions from April 2021-March 2022.

Sheila was a SERICC Counsellor for ten years, providing support to survivors of sexual violence and abuse in the community and women's prisons. She also represented the victim's perspective to convicted sex offenders while working alongside Essex Probation.

As the SERICC Director and External Relations Advisor for Rape Crisis England and Wales, Sheila has played a significant role in regularly collaborating with government departments and ministers. She has served on the VSCP for over seven years.

Throughout her 30+ year career, she has been a passionate advocate for survivors' rights. She continues to campaign for the increase in specialist support services and appropriate responses to, and understanding of, the impact of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors and their needs.

Lucy began adult life as a primary school teacher, working with children with severe special educational needs. The lack of a trauma-informed approach for these children frustrated and interested her, and so began the journey of additional training in therapeutic care alongside her voluntary work of chairing a small charity that supported adult survivors of sexual abuse within faith institutions.

This led to prominent campaigning, which became full-time 14 years ago. Lucy completed an MSc in Human Development, with a published thesis on the effects of sexual trauma on the child. Through frontline work of supporting survivors, she ran helplines and delivered training for staff across a variety of sectors.

Lucy is passionate about ensuring a lived experience voice is prominent in research, and has been involved in several research projects with universities around the country. She strives to ensure the research projects she works on can produce practical resources that enhance frontlines professionals’ daily practice; for example, a resource for trainee midwives to enhance their understanding of a trauma-informed approach when working with survivors of sexual abuse.

Lucy is passionate about working with government and researchers to identify gaps in understanding and ensure projects are used to provide vital evidence for a change in policy or law.

Lucy is currently London Training Manager at The Survivors Trust, managing the #CheckWithMeFirst programme, which runs workshops for NHS staff in working with survivors of sexual violence and operating in a trauma-informed way. She also works with colleagues to deliver accredited training and advice to a variety of stakeholders.

Lucy is skilled at delivering training and key messages to a range of audiences, regardless of their existing knowledge of the subject.