Abbie Wightwick


Every summer for the last few years I have received messages from people in Cardiff concerned about girls and women from some communities here being sent overseas for FGM in the brutally dubbed "cutting season". It's a sensitive issue which many affected, or at risk, won't speak publicly about. After several months of negotiations, which included meeting groups of people and individuals from the communities concerned in order to build trust, one woman agreed to share her story. Elham Ismail had not told her story publicly before. It's a painful but important testimony that required meetings over a few weeks to hear. I included vital information on where to get help and the law around FGM. I am now planning a series of follow ups from other people affected who got in touch.

Time passes but the ripple effects of WW2 and the Holocaust still affect those alive today. Interviewing a cook from Cardiff, she mentioned her historic family cake tin, given to her mother as she fled as a child from the Nazis. I used the story of the tin to tell the extraordinary history of Ruth Joseph's family, many of whom were slaughtered by the Nazis, and the experiences of the children who fled to Britain on the Kindertransport - and it wasn't all happy welcomes. The feature ran to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. News can be judgemental. Teenage pregnancy is often viewed and reported as a disaster. It isn't always so and doesn't have to be. Scanning a single parent charity newsletter I saw a message from a 23 year old woman who had a child aged 14, but all had worked out well. Talia Stimpson agreed to tell me how her family, school and teachers formed a protective net enabling her to take her exams and go to university. When our legal team said she and the dad must sign waivers agreeing to be identified as a victims of sexual abuse (as they were under age) I had a problem. Talia and the dad, who we named, said although now apart, they had consensual sex and were still friends. They wouldn't sign any waivers. Over several months, and with help from Talia, I got our legal team to re-draft our waivers. This meant we could publish the story and will pave the way for future teenager parent stories. All three pieces ran as features in the Western Mail and South Wales Echo and WalesOnline