1st November 2019 - AGM
Thank you very much to everyone that came to our AGM and for celebrating 25 years of the Southmead Project with us! We really appreciate your support. Here is our Founder, Mike Peirce, and a video on behalf of Sue Mountstevens, the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, who talks about supporting our work.
14th October 2019 - AGM Invitation
We are celebrating the 25th year of the Southmead Project this year and our Annual General Meeting will take place on Friday 1 November. We would be delighted if you could attend and join us in celebrating 25 years of the charity!
We are pleased to confirm the keynote speeches will be delivered by Darren Jones, Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, and Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol.
We will display some of the fantastic art work that was produced this year as part of our ‘Art of Survivors’ project. These were designed by survivors of abuse who were previously clients of the Southmead Project.
The event takes place at New United Reformed Church, Wigton Crescent, Southmead, Bristol, BS10 6DY and will start at 11am with lunch provided at 12.30pm. We will assume that you would like to stay for lunch unless you indicate otherwise.
Please could you also let us know if you have any dietary requirements.
If you would like to attend, please let us know by emailing
We look forward to celebrating with you!
15th September 2019 - Half Marathon
A huge well done to Claire Smith, Nick Tuftnell and Pete Wraith (pictured left to right in the middle photo) who took part in Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday 15th September. Sadly, our Operations Manager, Imogen McCabe, was unable to take part in the event due to a knee injury. Between them they have so far raised a whopping £911 for the charity, helping us to deliver our vital therapeutic support to survivors of abuse.
If you would like to show your support for Southmead Project, please visit
26th February 2019 - Bristol Rovers Bucket Collection
With £726 of vital donations collected and our profile significantly raised, Southmead Project enjoyed a hugely successful day out at Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium on Saturday 9 February.
“To see the players warming up, proudly wearing t-shirts with the message ‘Tackling abuse with Southmead Project’ was a first in our history and this memory will live on,” says Dr Mike Peirce MBE. “To have been given the opportunity to advance the knowledge of a rarely spoken issue through the excellent match-day programme and half-time pitchside interview, Bristol Rovers clearly demonstrated their intent to help us help others.”
Thank you again to all the staff and players at Bristol Rovers Football Club.
4th February 2019 - Funding for Pre-counselling Groups
Southmead Project was given a much-needed boost in January, receiving vital funds to help deliver its pre-counselling programmes to those from challenging backgrounds.
Bristol Community Health and North Somerset Community Partnership (NSCP) awarded Southmead Project £3,880 as part of its bid to help support voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations. Funding was awarded to a total of 12 projects.
“We know how hard local community-based organisations work to make a difference,” says Matthew Areskog, Bristol Community Health’s People and Communities Service Manager. “Motivating and supporting people to look after their own health is key for us. Our amazing community health staff, who really know what’s needed in the community, have voted on the final shortlist. We’re excited to hear about the progress these brilliant projects make this year.”
On behalf of Mike and the team at Southmead Project, we’d like to say a huge thank you to NSCP. To read more about NSCP, please visit their website.
28th January 2019 - Tackling Abuse with Bristol Rovers
Southmead Project CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE and volunteers will be putting in an appearance at Bristol Rovers Football Club during a special event to help celebrate their winning partnership.
Bristol Rovers recently named Southmead Project as their first charity partner of the season and will work with us throughout the season to help raise awareness of the services we provide to adult survivors of child abuse. Mike will be stepping out on to the pitch at half time on Saturday 9 February to tell supporters about the vital work we carry out to help survivors reclaim their lives.
As part of the event, our volunteers will be taking donations throughout the day and trained counsellors will be available to anyone who feels they may need to talk.
Mike and the whole of the team would like to thank the Bristol Rovers management, players and fans for welcoming us into your sporting home. Your open acknowledgement and acceptance of us and the pain and suffering of those who have experienced child abuse, is wholly indicative of the inclusive roots of the club.
25th October 2018 - Charity of the Year for Bristol Rovers
Pictured from left: Adam Tutton (Bristol Rovers Community Trust CEO), Mike Peirce (Southmead Project), Tom Lockyer (Bristol Rovers), Helen Godwin (Bristol City Council) and Tom Gorringe (Bristol Rovers).
Bristol Rovers has announced that Southmead Project will be their chosen charity partner for the 2018-19 season.
Throughout the season the club will be working with the charity to help raise awareness of their work and funds to help us deliver our vital work providing therapeutic and practical support to adults who were abused as children.
Dr Mike Peirce MBE, founder of the charity, says: “The decision of Bristol Rovers to support us in our work is an enormous step forward in acknowledging the extent of child abuse in our city, and the enormous problems this brings to the individual and the family concerned. The club has stood up to be counted as befits its sense of fair play and community spirit: openly proclaiming its decision to come down on the side of those who have had the misfortune to become innocent victims of appalling circumstance as children.
“This example of human kindness, compassion and commitment so clearly demonstrated by Bristol Rovers is a credit to all concerned. By their actions, the club will not only be helping to raise money for us to carry out our work but will be giving a voice to those who have been silenced for so long.”
22nd February 2018 - Amazing Resilience
A brand new exhibition curated by Southmead Project will be on display at Bristol’s City Hall in March. Amazing Resilience features work created by survivors of child abuse who have used the medium of art to speak the unspeakable.
The challenging and inspirational exhibition gives survivors the opportunity to highlight the long-term impact of child abuse as well as share their courage, determination and resilience to go on and reclaim their lives.
Amazing Resilience will be shown in the Park Street and Deanery Road Vestibules at City Hall on College Green from 13-16 March 2018 at Park Street and Deanery Street Vestibules, City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR.
25th September 2017 - Letter to Theresa May
Pictured from left: Mike Peirce (Southmead Project), Ben (Darren Jones MP's aide) and Terry Peirce (Southmead Project).
The purpose of Paddle to Parliament is to draw the attention of politicians and decision-makers to the current challenges faced by Southmead Project and many other charities providing child abuse support services due to inconsistent or non-existent funding of their activities. Currently the police handle a call relating to child sexual abuse (CSA) every 10 minutes (NSPCC – Freedom of Information sources 2017). Many other children will be facing other forms of abuse as well as CSA and it is likely too few of them will have access to appropriate support services. This situation is the same for those adult survivors of child abuse, who are experiencing post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) and using drugs, alcohol and other ways of self-harming as a direct consequence of that trauma (NHS Clinical Guidelines 2017).
Southmead Project acknowledges research findings from such informed sources and also information that indicates the formation of the brain of a child, born into and brought up in an unsafe and abusive environment, is different from that of a child from a safe, caring and loving environment (Fisher, Seigal et al).The resulting post-traumatic stress disorder brought about by abusive environments will often lead to damaging, unsafe and potentially life-threatening coping mechanisms. Such extreme methods of surviving are often accompanied by prescribed medication and/or misuse of illegal drugs or alcohol being adopted by victims of abuse, simply in order to try to cope with the awful nightmare of abuse and to manage their lives as indicated in the new NHS guidelines defined above.
The correlation between what has happened in a person’s early life and later self-harming behaviours in adulthood, has long been recognised as the main reason why so many survivors of child abuse end up in either the criminal justice system, the NHS or both. While there is still a distinct lack of researched evidence to show the true cost to the state in financial or human terms of child abuse, the sheer number of people trying to access support services such as that provided by Southmead Project and the subsequent growing waiting lists across the country is clear evidence of the huge demand.
In order to address these issues and on behalf of victims and survivors I am asking for ways to be found where Parliament can unite in order to consider the problem in its entirety, identify appropriate budgets that are consistent and essentially extend beyond the government’s term of office.
The ludicrous situation that exists where we clearly know the extent of child abuse across the spectrum (sexual, physical and emotional) but provide insufficient funding to tackle the issue is unforgivable and most regrettable. This appeal for positive action that comes on behalf of so many people must surely be heard and subsequent action taken. The message this would send out to the many thousands of these innocent victims of crime would be so welcome and have extremely positive, effective ramifications across the country.
The very fact that I and a number of colleagues have had to resort to an outrageous stunt in order to draw attention to this matter speaks volumes for the frustration caused by this deplorable situation. I therefore ask that this item be placed on the appropriate Commons agenda to be discussed in open Parliament and an end be put to this most appalling of circumstance.
Dr MJ Peirce MBE FRSA
17th January 2019 - Launch of the Truth Inquiry
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has launched an awareness-raising campaign to encourage victims and survivors to speak about their experiences.
Called The Truth Project, it enables victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences with the Inquiry and put forward recommendations for change.
The project forms a crucial part of the Inquiry’s work: hearing from victims and survivors will allow the Inquiry to understand the nature and scale of child sexual abuse and to hear their suggestions for change.
It has been designed in consultation with victims and survivors and their needs and wishes take priority. They are offered emotional support before, during and after their session, they will not be contradicted or challenged, and they are able to disclose as much or as little about their experiences as they feel comfortable with.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established to investigate the extent to which institutions and public bodies in England and Wales have failed to protect children from sexual abuse.
The Inquiry would like to hear from as many people as possible. To get in touch, visit The Truth Project website at www.truthproject.org.uk, or call the information line on 0800 917 1000 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 10am-12pm).
20th December 2019
We would like to wish everyone the best start to 2020 and we will all be thinking of you at Christmas!
The Southmead Project Team
13th December 2019 - Launch of Active Recovery Project
Have you been or are you a client of ours? Want to try something fun?
Our Active Recovery project is starting in 2020! There will be fortnightly activities taking place to help improve self-esteem and build support networks.
Please get in touch if you are interested!
28th January 2020 - Be Heard Campaign
We are proud to be part of the #BeHeard campaign and to display our survivors' art work at the exhibition currently taking place at Bridewell Police Station.
We were also greatly encouraged to meet with Dame Vera Baird, the Victim Commissioner, and Sue Mountstevens, Avon and Somerset PCC, yesterday to discuss the work of sexual violence therapeutic providers in the South West and how we can better support survivors.
3rd February 2020 - Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week
This week is Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week. We are here to support survivors of abuse, including those who have experienced sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect or domestic violence. Please contact us if you or someone you know needs support.
5th February 2020 - Changes in NHS CCG Provision for Trauma Counselling
As part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, the Southmead Project and Kinergy are raising awareness of the change in NHS CCG provision for trauma specialist counselling organisations like ourselves. Please see our joint statement here and how you can help.
We appreciate how difficult life has become for many people during such an uncertain and worrying time. We would like to share this information about food banks and other support services and please feel free to pass this on to anyone that it could help. A copy of this document can be downloaded here.
We hope that you are all managing to stay safe and well.
The Southmead Project Team
20th March 2020 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support Information
24th March 2020 - Closure and Update Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
30th March 2020 - Overcoming Trauma with Yoga
We hope that you are all staying safe and well.
We would like to share this video with you to help support you at home with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). Please see this video by Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist and leader in the field of trauma, about overcoming trauma with yoga.
The Southmead Project Team
7th May 2020 - Online Counselling Update & Happy Bank Holiday!
The Southmead Project has moved its counselling services online so that we can support survivors of abuse throughout the outbreak of COVID-19.
We would like to wish you a safe Bank Holiday weekend ahead from all of the team and we will be thinking of you.
18th May 2020 - Mental Health Awareness Week
We would like to wish everyone a happy Mental Health Awareness Week!
The theme this year is kindness, and we hope that this is an opportunity for you to be kind to yourself, as well as being kind to others.
10th August 2017 - Mental Health Trauma Summit
Southmead Project CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE will be speaking at this year’s Improving Psychological Therapies for Mental Health Trauma conference.
The national summit will give participants the chance to:
Network with colleagues who are working to improve services, practice and treatment for people who have experienced mental health trauma
Reflect on the lived experience of mental health trauma
Develop skills and improve competence in delivering psychological therapies for mental health trauma
Learn from experts working with refugees who have experienced trauma
Understand how to develop effective trauma-focused CBT
Friends and supporters of Southmead Project who’d like to attend the summit can receive a 20% discount by quoting hcuk20spkr when booking tickets.
For more information, visit www.healthcareconferencesuk.co.uk/improving-psychological-therapies-for-mental-health-trauma
31st July 2017 - Trauma-informed Care
In July the Department of Health published Drug misuse and dependence: UK guidelines on Clinical Management.
Often called the “Orange Book”, this year’s guidelines include a section outlining the principles for trauma-informed care, which:
Recognise the high rates of trauma exposure in substance misusers
Recognise trauma symptoms and behaviours as the individual’s best attempts to adapt and manage their experiences
Provide a treatment environment that promotes physical and emotional safety
Prioritise trauma recovery as part of treatment goals
Support patients to make choices and take control of treatment decisions
Adopt a stance that is collaborative, participatory and provides hope and belief in recovery from trauma
“It is satisfying to see the approach we’ve been recommending for the last 24 years has finally been made official,” says CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE. “The clinical guidelines in the study are conclusive and very clear where future provision/services and interventions aimed at those who are dependent upon drugs as a direct consequence of abuse experienced in childhood are concerned.
“There has been no specific budget from successive governments for the above client group and this has led to charities like Southmead Project being excluded from applying for clinical commissioning funding simply because there is no money put aside for these purposes,” Mike continues. “However, with recognition and acknowledgement now secured from extremely credible sources, perhaps the authorities can at last step up and ensure this will be corrected as soon as possible.”
30th May 2017 - Making Waves
Our fearless CEO, Dr Mike Peirce MBE, talks to us about Paddle to Parliament, which will see him take to the water to raise awareness for victims of child abuse.
You’re planning on rowing from Wiltshire to the Houses of Parliament in London. Why?
For some 25 years I have had to battle all the way to raise funds for Southmead Project so that it can carry out its work with victims and survivors of child abuse. Very little of our funding has come from the statutory sector and we’ve received consistently dismal responses from Bristol City Council over those years. The clear message this sends out – to this charity and the people who cross our threshold seeking help with their plight – is that their pain, their anguish and their voice has neither been acknowledged or heard. The message from Bristol City Council is that there is no budget from central government for the type of work we do – and so the situation will remain the same unless we get MPs from across the political spectrum to put aside politics and agree a centralised budget for the client group. Money can then be allocated to cities like Bristol and distributed accordingly.
Your brother, Terry, is joining you. What is his motivation?
Terry lived in the same house as me when we were children and, while he was not abused in any sexual ways, he obviously witnessed appalling domestic abuse and assault. This affected him in many ways and he is a champion for change. And he loves his brother!
Terry and I and many others across our country simply do not believe that children should be continually paying the price for ineptitude, denial, thoughtlessness and couldn’t-care-less attitudes from the government, or anyone else for that matter. There are appalling levels of abuse going on as I write this – in fact, reports suggest that every 10 minutes the police handle a call directly related to child sexual abuse from across the country. We need to get real here, as those children will grow into adults and it is these adults who will be crossing the thresholds of agencies like Southmead Project in the future.
When are you setting off and how long do you think it will take you?
We set off on 11 September 2017 at 10am from Caen Hill Locks and expect to arrive at the Houses of Parliament sometime on the 16 September.
How can people show their support for Paddle to Parliament?
We will be setting up a donation page closer to the start date – stay in touch via the website or Twitter @SouthmeadProj
12th May 2017 - Children's Commissioner Research Published
Our CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE called the Children’s Commissioner for England’s recent report into child abuse a “damning indictment of the apathy of successive governments”.
The report, called Investigating Child Sexual Abuse, was published in April 2017 and found that there had been a 31% increase in ‘sexual activity involving a child under 16’ in the year ending March 2016 compared with the previous year. In addition, there was a 20% increase in crimes recorded as a ‘sexual assault on a female aged 13 or over’ and a 51% increase in reports of sexual grooming.
Previous research by the Children’s Commissioner into child sexual abuse found that as few as 1 in 8 victims come to the attention of authorities and that child sexual abuse investigations take significantly longer than all other crime types, including adult sexual offences.
“We can see how far we need to go in order to address these shameful statistics and why we need the people, money, wherewithal, determination and drive in order to effect the changes that are sorely needed,” says Mike.
11th May 2017 - Our Fab Four
A huge congratulations to Southmead’s own Sarah Burns, Kim Browning, Sophie Bayley and Pete Wraith, who ran the Bristol 10k on Sunday 7 May. Not only did they complete the course, they also raised £500 (and counting) for Southmead Project.
If you’d like to carry out a fundraising event for Southmead Project, or simply donate, please visit our JustGiving fundraising page and follow the instructions.
8th February 2016 - 50 Most Inspirational Bristolians
18th May 2020 - Funding from the Quartet Community Foundation
Thank you so much to the Quartet Community Foundation for their grant of £4,884 from their Coronavirus Response Fund Programme! This will go towards enabling our counsellors to work from home and provide online counselling during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Thank you for this much needed support!
On Friday 4 February Southmead Project CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE was named one of Bristol Post’s 50 most inspirational Bristolians alive today.
He joins the likes of multi-marathon runner Ben Smith, campaigner Fahma Mohamed, war hero George Johnny Johnson and Games of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, who have been honoured “not only for their achievements … [but also] because they have inspired others with those achievements”.
As Bristol Post says, Mike has spent decades helping those affected by trauma and “inspired many to get back on their feet and restart their lives”.
We’d like to send our heartfelt congratulations to Mike and thank him for his commitment and determination in giving hope and a voice to victims of abuse.
24th May 2016 - Sexual Abuse and Mental Health Conference
Our CEO Dr Mike Peirce has confirmed that he will be speaking at this year’s Sexual Abuse and Mental Health Conference in London.
The CPD-certified conference aims to reduce the impact of abuse on mental health. Through national updates, survivor perspectives, expert sessions and case study presentations, the conference will offer practical guidance on a variety of issues, including identifying and recognising abuse, providing victim support and delivering recovery-orientated services.
The conference takes place on Tuesday 20 September.
16th May 2016 - Bristol 10K, AGM & More
Southmead’s very own Dr Mike Peirce joined Bristol Roller Derby on Made in Bristol TV to talk about running the Great Bristol 10k in aid of the project. BRD have chosen Southmead Project as their nominated charity this year and will be putting forward 10 runners to complete the course. One of the members of the BRD team works for Southmead Project. “Events like the 10k are absolutely fabulous for us,” says Mike. “Raising awareness is so vital for little charities like ours. The Bristol Roller Derby are saying ‘we believe in you, and we believe in the people you’re trying to help’.” If you’d like to support BRD and support Southmead Project, visit their JustGiving page.
Elsewhere, Southmead will be working with St Stephen’s Church developing a group programme for people supporting a partner or family member through the counselling process following the disclosure of abuse. The project is being supported by the DWF Foundation, Southmead Fourteen and Ryklow Trust.
And finally, this year’s AGM will take place on Friday 18 November at midday. Venue details will be announced later.