A woman from Stevenage has launched ‘Ask for Ariel’, a campaign aimed at helping children suffering from abuse. 

Verity Oliver, a mum of three, is hoping that the scheme will be supported by local organisations and replicate the successful ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign. 

Verity was sexually abused from the age of seven, and found the courage to tell the police about it when she was 17.

Her reports were taken seriously, and the perpetrator was sent to prison. Now, she wants to make it easier for children who are being abused to tell an adult. 

Under her proposed scheme children, family members and anyone who comes into contact with children would know that if a child ‘asked for Ariel’, they needed support. 

The Comet: Verity hopes that her campaign will receive support from the NSPCC, police and schools.Verity hopes that her campaign will receive support from the NSPCC, police and schools. (Image: Verity Oliver)

She says that she dreams “of a system where a child can write in their notebook ‘I need Ariel’, and their teacher will start action in comforting and protecting that child. Of a system where a child can say ‘Ariel’ to a friend and that friend instantly knows to find a trusted adult to help them”. 

“It’s something so simple, but abusers thrive on silence and this is a way of empowering children to break that silence, and to give them back the voice that has been stolen from them," Verity said.

“It’s difficult to teach children about things like this – how do you protect children while keeping their innocence? This could provide a buffer that does that.” 

“I know from personal experience that you cannot expect children to know the words to come forward with. There will be so many children going unnoticed so it’s good to have something else in the arsenal.

“It is difficult to understand the mental load abused children carry with them every single moment of the day.

"We need to let children know there is a safe space for them to come forward and they don’t have to deal with this on their own anymore”. 

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), as many as one in 20 children are sexually abused, and one in three children who are sexually abused by an adult do not tell anybody about it at the time. 

Verity has been in contact with the NSPCC and Hertfordshire police about the scheme, with the police “seeming really interested”. 

Her next move will be to approach schools and speak to family support workers and social workers. 

If you would like to know more about the ‘Ask for Ariel’ scheme or are interested in supporting it, you can email askforariel@outlook.com. The scheme also has pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.