Co-CEO, Sue Pearce, awarded MBE in New Year’s Honours’ List

Sue Pearce, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN), is shocked and delighted to have been nominated for a Member of the British Empire (MBE) Award for her work with women who have experienced sexual violence.

Sue Pearce said “I have had a very rewarding career at RCTN and I never anticipated it would be topped by such an accolade.”

Sue started her career in Rape Crisis in 2001 when she became a volunteer counsellor for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre based in Darlington. She subsequently also volunteered as a Trustee for the organisation.  She moved to RCTN, (or Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre as it was called then) in 2003 to take up a part-time paid counsellor role before moving in 2009 into a full-time role.  She has provided women with over 5,000 hours of counselling and support.

Since she started, RCTN has increased from a team of 3 to a team of 19. In 2009, Sue was one of the team instrumental in enabling RCTN to offer services in Northumberland.  Sue moved into a part-time CEO role in 2013 and this has expanded over the years such that in 2019, this will become her full-time job.

In the last few years Sue has increasing become involved in supporting women with the issues they face in accessing a fair outcome from the criminal justice system. She was part of Vera Baird’s (Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner) Court Observer Panel looking at the progress of rape cases through Newcastle Crown Court and of the PCC’s independent panel investigating complaints about the Police.  Through this her knowledge of the barriers women face navigating the criminal justice system has developed and she has used this to great effect to support the development of RCTN’s specialist Practical and Emotional Support service (a service supported by the PCC).

Sue is currently championing the need to improve support for older women who experience sexual violence and is awaiting the outcome of a major bid which will raise awareness of specific the problems older women face and provide support for them to overcome the sometimes devastating impact of sexual violence and abuse.

“Many people will find it hard to understand, but I love my job: I find it challenging and fulfilling. I am saddened and frustrated at the stories I hear from our clients, but I know that RCTN helps many of them to live a better life beyond the sexual abuse.  It has been a privilege of working with women who were prepared to share their stories of abuse with me: I couldn’t have developed the knowledge I have without them.  And, of course, I could not do what I do without the wonderful support of the organisation’s trustees, staff and volunteers. Thank you all”.