Our society faces many challenges and crises. Some of them are very visible or are widely discussed. Some, however, can make us feel uncomfortable. One subject has long been taboo, and even now it’s something we find difficult to face up to: according to the NSPCC, one in 20 children in the UK have experienced some form of sexual abuse. This is the equivalent of almost one in every classroom.

Every child deserves to feel safe and happy, so it’s horrible to confront situations where that’s not the case. It’s a shocking problem, it’s also unfortunately widespread, and many children affected by it don’t tell anyone. But for every problem our society faces, there’s an important role that ethical finance can play. There’s a charity in Bristol showing just how that can happen.

Founded in the 1970s, The Green House in Bristol provides therapy for children and adults who’ve experienced sexual abuse. The therapy is free to access and can offer an important space for people to heal their past traumas. This is especially important given the impact that abuse and neglect can have upon a person’s wellbeing: of the over 400 people the charity supported last year, 86% of its adult clients were classified as having moderate to very severe mental health needs, and almost half have attempted suicide.

At the moment, The Green House is the only service of this kind for children in Bristol, but its current premises has just one therapy room that is used for children, and which is shared with an adults consulting service. This makes it difficult to create the right environment for the different therapies needed.

We aim to offer a centre of excellence where anyone affected by any form of sexual abuse has the chance to heal and move forward with their lives.
Michelle Windle, director of The Green House

Children and adults typically interact with therapy in very different ways. While most adults will sit still and talk about their experiences and feelings, children often don’t have the language to properly talk about what happened to them, and how it has made them feel. Instead, The Green House uses creative therapies involving art and drama. This allows the child to lead the therapy session, talking to their therapist through play. Unlike a typical therapy session for adults, it can be expressive and messy.

Earlier this year, Triodos agreed a loan of £250,000 with The Green House to support the purchase of a new property. This is part of our commitment to provide finance to care for those in need. The loan will allow the new property to be purchased and renovated before the charity sells its current premises, allowing it to continue to provide therapy in the existing building during the transition. Importantly, this means none of its clients will have any gaps in their therapy.

The new building will have a dedicated children’s room better equipped for young people, with lots of art materials and toys for dramatic play. There’ll also be a separate waiting area for children and their parents which will improve the overall experience for everyone accessing the service.

Michelle Windle, director of The Green House, is hopeful about the charity’s future. “We aim to offer a centre of excellence where anyone affected by any form of sexual abuse has the chance to heal and move forward with their lives,” she explains.

“At a time when we are seeing record numbers come forward for help, our new therapy centre will enable The Green House to support more people than ever before.”

The Green House’s track record speaks for itself. 76% of children and young people seen by the charity last year reported an improvement in their health and wellbeing. All of them said the therapy had helped them with the difficulties they were experiencing.

The Green House also expects that the move will enable a 40% increase in its service provision. All the new therapy rooms will have disabled access, ensuring everyone in need will be able to benefit from its services. The organisation hopes to be moved in by March 2019.

Every child deserves to feel safe and happy. Thanks to The Green House, more children will be able to feel like that.

The Green House has been providing therapy for people affected by sexual abuse for over 30 years. Formerly known as Avon Sexual Abuse Centre, the charity changed its name in 2010. The Green House has steadily grown over the years and now provides therapy for over 75 men, women and children each week.