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Who we are

In November 2016, British football was rocked by a series of high-profile revelations regarding child sexual abuse. Several former professional players bravely waived their right to anonymity to speak out about their past abuse.

A number of the players involved decided to set up The Offside Trust, a new organisation committed to supporting survivors and working to make sport safer for children. The Trust is led by ex- footballer Steve Walters and former professional golfer Chris Unsworth, whose stories have inspired hundreds of people to speak out for the first time about their abuse.

Our aims are to:

  • End abuse in sport, so kids can be kids; and
  • Support the healing journey of survivors of abuse.

The Offside Trust already has the support of clubs, players and former professionals throughout the sporting world.

We focus on all sports, not just football. We are grateful for the support that we are getting from everyone including the people in cricket, rugby, golf and boxing, helping to raise further awareness across sport.

The Offside Trust works alongside governing bodies, charities and organisations that deal with safeguarding.

Examples of Past and Future Work

Successes to date have included:

  • Supported and spoken confidentially to over 100 survivors of abuse, many of whom never disclosed their abuse to anyone previously;
  • Put safeguarding at the top of the agenda of every sport nationally and internationally;
  • Identified inadequacies that exist on numerous levels and are working with relevant organisations to build suitable solutions;
  • Listened; believed; supported each and every victim and survivor who has contacted us;
  • Organised various support events for survivors, including our “Offside Trust weekend”;
  • Tackled the stigma of surviving abuse by speaking extensively in the national media, including The Guardian, TalkSport, Victoria Derbyshire Show, ITV News;
  • Held key discussions with stakeholders to understand current safeguarding systems;
  • Supported survivors alongside the police where required;
  • Listened and organised approved counselling where chosen;
  • Our work has led to enhanced investigations with Operation Hydrant, relevant organisations and better record keeping moving forward;
  • Engaged with international discussion on ending the stigma around abuse, through Accento Robinson in Spain and Nieuwsuur in Holland;
  • Met with Premier League and Championship clubs to discuss and share best safeguarding practice;
  • Called on sporting bodies to hold full and independent enquiries into past abuse;
  • Engaged with parliamentarians on a local and national level;
  • Attended and spoke at awareness-raising events for grassroots sporting entities;
  • Met with governing bodies to develop plans to eradicate abuse in sport.
  • Grown our presence on social media with more than 11,500 followers.

In the coming months, our work will include:

  • Continuing support to survivors with confidential listening and referral service;
  • Working alongside organisations and partners to end abuse and achieve the healing survivors deserve;
  • Identifying improvements in reporting, safeguarding and information sharing;
  • Hosting further, regular support events for survivors to share their healing journey through peer-to-peer engagement;
  • Expanding our work to directly engage and educate young people and parents as key stakeholders in the safeguarding process;
  • Working alongside internet and technology bodies to campaign around grooming and internet safety;
  • Improving cross-sport checks, reporting and information sharing
  • Ensuring all enquiries into non-recent abuse are able to properly identify past failures and learn from mistakes;
  • Continuing to use our platform in the media to combat the stigma of abuse, and ensure we all understand our role in keeping children safe;
  • Developing and distributing guidance to key stakeholders regarding preventing abuse, and working sensitively with survivors of abuse;
  • Assisting to develop a better culture around sport where children are safe and protected, changing the conversation around abuse in sport;
  • Ensuring a survivor centred approach is adhered to at all levels of the survivor journey no matter what route is taken;
  • Developing support resources for family, loved ones and supporters of survivors;
  • Developing a pressure group to be the independent body to ensure progress is made;
  • Fully engaging professional clubs and players to use their resources and platform to keep all children in sport safe.

The huge uptake of all our services proves that there is a real need for the Offside Trust.

We do acknowledge that clubs and organisations have made vast improvements in safeguarding. We are keen to ensure these high standards are used as examples for the lower league and grassroots clubs to allow them to integrate these easily.

We now need your help to continue to support survivors of abuse in sport, and keep our children safe. We are keen to establish working relationships with organisations who pledge publicly that safeguarding is high on their agenda and to create an open door policy for partner organisations to assist them to deliver relevant support where required.

Please email us at info@theoffsidetrust.com to discuss ways we can work together, and where relevant to offer support either financially or professionally.