Help us to help victims of abuse

Independent Christmas Appeal
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The Independent Online
At the end of a year in which The Independent disclosed some of the worst child-abuse scandals ever revealed, today we launch our Victims of Abuse appeal to help children whose lives have been devastated.

Our Christmas appeal is in support of projects run by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, including its helpline and direct support to help children who have been abused, and to prevent abuse.

The terrible toll of years of abuse suffered by more than 100 children in Clwyd was first reported by The Independent and was the launch-pad for a campaign which eventually won government action to tighten standards in children's homes.

Recent child-abuse scandals in residential homes form a grim litany - Cleveland, Frank Beck in Leicestershire, pindown in Staffordshire, Bryn Estyn in Clywd, Ty'r Felin, in Bangor, Gwynedd - and these children had been taken into care because it was thought that they would be safer. In the community, we heard of cases such as Daniel Handley who was abducted, abused and murdered by two paedophiles, and Rikki Neave, whose mother was sentenced to seven years for cruelty. Countless other stories have never been heard.

The NSPCC runs more than 120 projects offering counselling and therapy to abused children, as well as carrying out its own investigations into allegations of abuse. The charity relies on public donations for 85 per cent of its income.

We would like you to contribute between now and Christmas. Your money will go to help projects such as the NSPCC's 24-hour freephone helpline, which takes on average 1,200 calls a week, the London Investigation Team, which works with the police and social services to investigate paedophiles, and the Kaleidoscope project in Newcastle, which treats children who have abused other children.

Over the next few weeks we will be telling you more about the projects, starting today with a day in the life of workers on the NSPCC helpline. A coupon for making your donation accompanies that article.

Victims of Abuse appeal, page 10