Battling abuse abroad

489. Lesley Rudd (Buckinghamshire)

A former nurse from South Bucks has helped protect over 800,000 young children from abuse in South Africa.

10 Downing Street

Lesley Rudd was appalled when she read, in 2004, about horrific stories of abuse suffered by children in South Africa and was immediately inspired to do something about it. Eleven years ago she set up the Infant Trust to help protect vulnerable children from brutality and violence and help prevent infant rape; they have now worked with partners in five of the poorest provinces.

The Infant Trust focuses on empowering women [and a few men…] to identify possible abuse and act on their suspicions; they provide training in running crèches as places of safety and healthy development. All of the Trust’s projects are run in partnership with local groups and local organisations to ensure sustainability. Lesley has been proactive in setting up all of the projects, fundraising and helping to design all the programmes.

Their flagship ‘Caring for Crèches’ programme, which was developed with Childline South Africa, is a free six-day training programme which instructs crèche leaders and carers in child care, health (including HIV/AIDS), nutrition, and how to recognise and react appropriately to suspected abuse. This programme alone has trained around 2,200 women, identified more than 3,000 children who have been abandoned and/or abused, and helped to protect over 106,000 small children plus others in their families and communities.

Through Infant Trust, Lesley also support numerous other projects, including providing therapy and support programmes for children and their families who have suffered abuse and a project which collects toys to pass on to traumatised young children. The Infant Trust also runs training courses for community volunteers and social workers, and carries out research into why such atrocious crimes are carried out and how this can prevented in future.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“With the Infant Trust Lesley has empowered thousands of women across South Africa to protect and safeguard children in their communities. The education and training she has provided has helped to improve the lives of over 800,000 children, tackling the violence and abuse that affects too many of them in their early years. As we mark International Women’s Day this week I am delighted to recognise all that Lesley has done with the UK’s 489th Point of Light.”

Lesley said:

“It is a huge honour to be given this award in recognition of the work we have been doing for 11 years. Whilst our focus is always on how we can work to help protect more children, and help to break the cycle of violence against the most vulnerable in South Africa it is very rewarding to have our work recognised in the UK”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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