Content Warning: Please be aware that some of the stories on these pages contain details and descriptions of abuse which you might find disturbing or upsetting.
I first found Daisy about four years ago. Homeless, sleeping on a couch in a random front room whilst her two young children were squeezed into a bed upstairs.
Unable to verbalise or even acknowledge her sexual abuse, or how badly she had been failed by the whole system from the age of 12, I began to slowly build bridges and spend time with her.
Daisy is an intelligent, funny, determined, capable young woman, a great little mum whose two children are the absolute centre of her world and her whole reason for living.
I had known all about Daisy from my time on Operation Span in 2010/11, the Greater Manchester Police investigation into Child abuse and grooming that ultimately led me to resign in order to expose publicly what I saw as the failures of the police to address the abuse, and to allow predatory serial paedophiles to walk free. This was the case which was dramatised in the BBC drama Three Girls, on which I worked as The Programme Consultant for four years and where we won 5 BAFTAs.
From my first meeting with Daisy on that dark winter evening in 2016, our relationship evolved and it’s no exaggeration to say that she is now like one of my own kids and I look at her and feel a bit like a proud mum. We’ve been to theme parks together with her kids, I’ve shared her kids first visit to the circus, been to the seaside, indoor play areas and McDonald's trips. Always fun, always full of laughter. When something bad happened, she would call me in a state, often in the night for reassurance, support and a listening ear.
And now just look at Daisy! No longer homeless, having created a lovely home for herself and her kids, she has decorated it all by herself, and she’s even excited to soon be taking up a place on a counselling/mentoring course that The Foundation has found for her. She is now ready to spread her wings and fly, and I’ve no doubt that she will!
I first took her to meet respected lawyer Harriet Wistrich at The Centre for Women's Justice three years ago, when I have worked closely with her. We have brought a case against GMP and the CPS for their systemic failures under Human Rights Legislation in their dealings with Daisy and other Rochdale survivors. Potentially this is a groundbreaking case with hopefully far-reaching consequences to prevent future victims from being failed in the same way.
However, above all else, Daisy has found her voice!! How she has grown, in both confidence and self-belief, and she now knows without a shadow of a doubt that she was failed by the system, by the police, by Sexual Health, by Social Workers, CPS... the list goes on. She has transformed her own personal PAIN INTO POWER, and she is the absolute example of what I want The Maggie Oliver Foundation to do to help every single survivor who approaches us for help.
The Foundation is just at the start of this process, and I know only too well what a long and arduous journey there is ahead. We need the support of volunteers, the public, funding and determination to make this succeed, but this is a marathon and not a sprint!!
It takes time, kindness, non-judgmental conversations, encouragement, belief, support and sometimes an odd disagreement to encourage someone as damaged as Daisy was to believe in herself. But with that and a genuine desire to move forward, miracles can and do happen. Daisy is the living proof of that and that thought is what keeps me driving forward in the lowest moments.
And the broken young woman that Daisy was on that cold October day, is now no more. The little duckling has blossomed into a beautiful swan and I feel a bit like a proud mum watching on as her duckling flees the nest.
Love Maggie xx
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