Activism

The Big Issue Changemakers of 2024: Women, family and children

These are the people pushing for equality in the UK

Kinship carers campaigning at Westminster

In an unequal world, these Changemakers are working to help women and kids suffering trauma or neglect are an inspiration.

Young Changemaker Faustine Petron, 23 – Make It Mandatory

After experiencing an abusive relationship, student Faustine Petron launched the Make It Mandatory campaign, with the goal of making relationships and sex education compulsory for college students. In 2023, parliament’s women and equalities committee backed the change, asking the government to introduce the lessons. But there has also been a delay: at the time of writing, the government is considering the recommendation.

Faustine Petron, second from right

What was 2023 like for you and Make It Mandatory?

“It was a difficult year, but one in which we remained resilient. An estimated 2.1 million people aged 16 and over experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023. Despite these statistics being alarming, the government initially kept refusing to meet us or consider our demand, which really highlighted their lack of understanding and concern for domestic abuse-related issues. Finally, near the end of 2023 the government announced they would consider our ask formally.”

Why is your work important today?

“Every day we get emails from concerned parents whose children sometimes as young as 14 are in abusive relationships, and more than a fifth of all coercive control cases reported to the police involved under 25s. The government cannot ignore such a serious and pervasive issue for much longer. It’s negligent and dangerous to do so. We will keep pushing the government to do what is right for young people. The government must recognise education as a powerful tool in prevention.” 

Lisa Cherry – Trauma Informed Consultancy Services Ltd

Image: Kyra Williams

Cherry is an award-winning author, and director of Trauma Informed Consultancy Services Ltd. She assists schools and services to create systemic change in the way that we work with those experiencing trauma. She has been working in and around education and children’s services for more than 30 years, and combines academic knowledge with professional expertise and personal experience. Cherry recently completed her PhD on the intersection between exclusion and being a child in care, and the impact across their life. She consults with social workers, educators, probation workers and those in adult services, training and speaking to more than 30,000 people around the world.

Find the rest of the Changemakers series on the links below and pick up the magazine from your local Big Issue vendor

Kinship

Kinship’s #ValueOurLove campaign fights for improved financial, practical and emotional support for kinship families (where a child is raised by a close family member/friend because their parents cannot care for them) in England and Wales. It seeks to equalise the help kinship families receive with that received by foster and adoptive families. #ValueOurLove led to England’s first-ever national kinship care strategy, published in December 2023, and has begun to address the key campaign calls to equalise: allowances between foster and kinship families; access to training and resources between kinship carers and foster carers; leave between foster and kinship families; and support between children in kinship care and those in care.

Young Changemaker Liv Eren, 20 – End Child Poverty Coalition

Liv Eren is a child poverty campaigner, first-generation student and youth worker with the End Child Poverty Coalition. They often appear in national media to help paint a realistic picture of child poverty today, and have spoken at multiple high-profile events, including at the Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming conference, and at the National Education Union. Their nominator said: “Hearing experiences of poverty directly from somebody’s mouth – as opposed to academic work – really helps illustrate the scale of the problem.”

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Make Birth Better

Chloe Oliver of MASIC Foundation and Nikki Wilson from Make Birth Better

Make Birth Better is passionately supporting parents and professionals whose experience of birth was deeply distressing and left them traumatised. In 2023 they provided support to 60,000 parents and professionals across their wide range of support resources, training opportunities and campaigns. They played a pivotal role in setting parliamentary history when in October 2023, for the first time ever, a debate on birth trauma was held in the House of Commons. Their nominator wrote: “Make Birth Better is working tirelessly to break the stigma around birth trauma. Up to 40% of those who give birth every year in the UK find some element of their birth traumatic and up to 10% will live with symptoms of PTSD. And yet for generations, this story has been silenced. They are passionate, compassionate, collaborative activists who deserve to be recognised as Changemakers.”

Maggie Gordon-Walker – Mothers Uncovered

Gordon-Walker set up the Mothers Uncovered charity in 2008, and since then it has supported nearly 3,000 women in the Brighton and Hove area, providing preventative support to mostly new and isolated mums. Their work has since expanded  – their SEND project provides creative peer support for parents of children with special educational needs/disabilities. The Teen Years focuses on the parents and carers of older children, while Three Gen brings together younger and older mothers. In 2023 she also launched the My Birth peer support group, after finding many new mums were experiencing mental health issues due to attending medical appointments or giving birth alone.

Madlug

Madlug was founded in 2015 by Dave Linton. He set up Madlug when he discovered that young people in the care system were having to move between placements with their belongings in a bin bag. For every bag the organisation sells, one goes to a child in care. They have now given away more than 90,000 travel bags to children in care, and that number is expected to hit 100,000 by April. The award-winning brand has reached over 700,000 people, and has even inspired people to foster children. 

Lee Chambers

Lee Chambers

Chambers is a psychologist and business owner who does a lot of work in the field of gender equity. He launched Male Allies UK in 2023, which provides allyship training for organisations, and funds work with young boys in secondary school on positive masculinity and online misogyny. As well as being active in community spaces and fundraising for women’s refuges, Chambers is now part of the CMI Women’s board and has been active in policymaking for allyship in management and sexualisation in the workplace. He also recently attended the House of Commons to speak about male violence towards women. 

Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice

Nominated by Jodie Whittaker, actress

The hospice supports local children with life-shortening conditions, their families, and those families already living with the loss of a child. Founded in 1998, it continues to evolve, from running a successful pilot focusing on maternal mental health during pregnancy to growing peer-to-peer support through the creation of new groups like the rainbow bump group.

Whittaker (left) said: “The hospice contributes to our community in a way that some people are lucky enough to not know about. There are so many positive effects of having children’s hospices within driving distance for people. Funding children’s hospices is so difficult and challenging, so I’d really like to highlight Forget Me Not.”

Janis James – Good Egg Safety CIC

James heads up a community interest company specialising in family safety. After witnessing the loss of a relationship between an ex-partner and his children, James researched the child safety issue of alienation between parent and child post-marriage separation. She dedicated her time and that of her team for free to research and develop tools to help families going through this. Her nominator wrote: “Thousands of families going through separation are exposed to alienating issues – family courts are ill-equipped to deal with the psychological damage that occurs. Jan’s passion for change and helping others is throughout everything she does, professionally and personally with protecting children at the core.”

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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