JT article 12.06.15DISCLOSURES about historic and more recent sexual abuse currently dominate the media — including the horrifying story on our front page this week.

A Bury woman has made it her business to ensure that children and the elderly do not suffer from abuse. Sarah Carlick — whose mother, the late Ros Carlick, was volunteers co-ordinator for a Jewish charity in Manchester began her career as a social worker, but set up her own safeguarding business because she wanted to change the world by making it a safer place.

“I wanted to follow my dream and work for myself,” she said. “I had just finished  my master’s degree. Part of what I looked at…was how to use creativity. That is what I use to make the hard subject of abuse quite fun to talk about with dynamic techniques to help make a safer society.

“Business allowed me to be creative, to put my ideas into practice.”

She emphasised: “The more we talk about abuse, the better it is to make it more transparent. I am now studying for a PhD on bullying through technology, like mobile phones. “But there is also child sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, adult abuse, organisational and financial abuse, modern slavery,  neglect and self-neglect. Children’s and adults’ agendas are different, but there are lots of similarities.

“My business, The Athena Programme for Safeguarding Training and Consultancy, is in the forefront of safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people.”

But it was not easy setting up her own business. She told me: “My business was about safeguarding the vulnerable. But in business that’s not always what the customer wants.

“When you go off thinking you’re going to change the world with your ideas through training and consultancy, you find that business is about marketing, PR, cash flow, finance, making sure customers are happy and not just about safeguarding and caring about people.

“There were big lessons to learn by keeping my values, knowledge and enthusiasm for safeguarding while making sure I have a good website, contracts, that people pay on time and all the other things that happen in business.

“It has not been easy. It has been hard work, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because I like to be independent and more flexible.”

It certainly wasn’t easy the year Sarah’s five-year-old daughter, Ella, was born. Yet Sarah managed to gain a North West Women in Business Award that year. She said when she gained her award: “Low energy levels and long hours proved challenging. It was hard work juggling everything.

“I worked right through my pregnancy, submitting a funding application, applying for a bank loan to purchase a building, relocating and rebranding of the business, training a new staff team while continuing to secure contracts and deliver a high quality service, while fitting in quality time with my family, dog and teaching tai-chi.”

Now “happily” divorced, Sarah works with a variety of organisations, including construction companies, providers, local authorities, residential institutions and schools, helping them to comply with government regulations, like those of Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

She said: “The list is endless. We have worked across 10 different sectors, including construction, that no one else has gone into before.

“If construction workers are building a school, have apprentices or young people on work experience, or they may fix things in people’s houses or in a housing association, they have a responsibility to share their concerns of abuse if they see any. “If they see anything untoward, they should report it to bring about a safer culture.

By making people compliant to government legislation, they become aware of the fact of abuse and change the culture.

“It’s about being confident in your own knowledge. If you have that funny feeling that something’s not right, do not to ignore it.

“But you also have to make sure all your evidence is recorded to protect your organisation, yourself and the service user.”

It’s not just in her business that Sarah is driven to achieve. Her mum died of ovarian cancer and Sarah has inherited her faulty gene which is prevalent in Ashkenazi women.

Rather than bemoaning her fate, Sarah is determined to do something about her situation and those of other Ashkenazi women.

Besides planning preventative surgery for her own condition, Sarah has set up the Tick-Tock Committee to raise funds and awareness of ovarian cancer.

As an ambassador for Target Ovarian Cancer, Sarah has spoken about the condition on TV and has been invited to the first parliamentary debate on the subject.