Blazing a trail in the charity sector

  • ’Inspirational’ Duncan Craig, scooped the Guardian’s Charity Trailblazer of the Year award for his work helping male victims of sexual abuse
  • The Chief Executive of Survivors Manchester beat tough competition and hopes it will provide a greater platform to talk about a taboo subject
  • The quality of the people shortlisted highlights the professionalism of those who work in the charity sector

In a sector where doing what you can to help others is the norm, you have to be extra special to stand out from your peers.

Duncan Craig, Chief Executive of Survivors Manchester, has done just that, scooping the prestigious Charity Trailblazer of the Year award, as voted for by readers of the Guardian newspaper and website.

Duncan founded Survivors Manchester in 2009 to support male victims of sexual abuse. A survivor of sexual abuse himself, Duncan – a qualified psychotherapist – now campaigns tirelessly on the issue.

“I hope that winning the award will help me achieve greater publicity for Survivors Manchester and, most importantly, provide me with new avenues to talk about the sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation of boys and men – a subject that still isn’t talked about often in the public arena,” says Duncan.

This year, five people were shortlisted for the annual Charity Trailblazer award. Nearly 6,000 people voted, with Duncan picking up 42% of the vote.

“I was absolutely blown away; overwhelmed that so many people had taken the time to vote for me,” he says. “It was amazing to be nominated and shortlisted, and to win is just something extraordinary.”

Nick Hoyle, Programme Manager at Zurich Community Trust, a registered charity, adds: “I have worked in the charity sector for 11 years and have met some fantastic people representing some wonderful charities, and Duncan is the most inspirational person I have met in that time.

I was absolutely blown away; overwhelmed that so many people had taken the time to vote for me. It was amazing to be nominated and shortlisted, and to win is just something extraordinary

Duncan Craig, Chief Executive of Survivors Manchester

“To experience what he did early in his life and to use that experience to try to achieve something positive is truly inspirational. He has overcome that, and his honesty and passion is changing attitudes in an under-funded and under-represented area of need.”

Tough competition

Duncan had tough competition, including Freda Casagrande, who – inspired by a trip to the Himalayas – gave up her high-profile career to focus on helping children in the region. She started up Hi-Cap UK, which has raised more than £100,000 to date.

Or Ruth Shelton, chief executive of Emmanuel House Support Centre, who stepped in three years ago to save the organisation – which supports homeless and vulnerable adults in Nottingham – from closure, by campaigning tirelessly for funding and donations.

“The shortlist was full of inspiring people and fantastic stories – and coming up with the shortlist alone was hard enough,” says Amy Brettell, part of the judging panel and Head of Charities and Social Organisations at Zurich.

Amy adds that the aim of the award was: “to shine a light on all the great work that happens in the charity sector. Although the winner was a chief executive, we had nominations from charity team leaders right the way up to the top of organisations.”

Duncan, who last year advised Channel 4’s Hollyoaks on a storyline involving the rape of a central male character, won an iPad Air 2, a day at the Guardian offices and bespoke mentoring from Zurich as his prize.

“Hopefully this award will help highlight that the charity sector is more innovative than people realise,” says Amy. “There is a lot of talk about how the charity sector can learn from business, but all the people nominated on this shortlist highlight just how professional and forward- thinking the sector is, and how it achieves incredible things. I think business can learn a lot from the voluntary sector too.”

* Zurich is running a series of free Charity Leaders Live events in conjunction with the Guardian, aimed at providing information and best practice for charities.