A Newtown St Boswell’s man who has made it his life’s mission to help other survivors of child abuse, has been recognised at this year’s British Citizen Awards.
Les Newington joined Survivors Unite in 2013, a local peer support group of survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the Scottish Borders. The group is supported by Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity.
Despite having lived through organised sexual abuse from his early childhood to his late teens, Les describes himself as “one of the lucky survivors” because he had a positive experience when he eventually came to disclose the abuse he suffered. However, he soon realised that many other survivors are not heard and fail to get the right support when they need it.
Initially attending Survivors Unite for his own support and recovery, Les grew in confidence took on a more active role, eventually becoming a co-facilitator in 2016.
Les said: “Survivors Unite is just an amazing group, amazing people. The instant connection I felt when I first went through the door – it’s really difficult to explain – it’s something I’d never really felt with others.
“That mutual support, that understanding, when you don’t even have the words to describe what you’re going through, you’re still understood, people just know.”
Amanda Erskine, Project Worker with Children 1st in the Borders, nominated Les for the British Citizen Awards, which honour people who do extraordinary things in their local communities.
Les is pictured receiving his award from Judges Michael Underwood and Shakirat Ojo