Writing Strong

Annie Hope, facilitator of Writing Strong
March 13, 2024

I am a writer and campaigner with lived experience as a family member of someone who has had ‘the Knock’ for sexual offences. I am known as Annie Hope.

In the fallout of the Knock, my children and I had to flee our home and change our names, leaving our previous life behind, in order to protect us from community backlash following media coverage. 

We lost everything, including our home, and now reside in a relative’s home. We were not signposted to any source of support by any of the agencies involved in our lives at the time, and we did not count as victims in the eyes of the law, so we were afforded no protections.

The best support I found in the fallout of the Knock was from people who had been through similar. It was not easy at first to locate others, but over time, we connected and became a community. The community has helped me with many elements of the fallout of the Knock.

After searching far and wide, we found support from various charities. This support helped me to find the confidence to use my voice again, and helped my children to feel less alone, especially during the time when they had no school places. It also helped me to provide evidence during the fight for school places (I had to go to appeals to secure places). My children were also supported by their schools, who set up counselling and pastoral support for them, at my request.

My children have regular contact with their dad. As per their wishes, he is very much part of their lives.  He has worked hard on himself, and continues to engage with a programme of rehabilitation and therapy from a charity.

For 14 months, I volunteered for a charity as a co-facilitator of a peer support group for those caring for a child affected by the imprisonment of a parent following ‘the Knock’.  

For 4 years, I have supported people from the Knock community on a 1:1 basis, and through networks. It's a wonderful community, with a vast amount of knowledge about all elements of this journey. The support is mutual, and we have all learnt so much along the way.

Despite my best efforts to find paid work, I was met with closed doors and dead ends. It was during this time I became acutely aware of the lack of value placed on lived experience. I was exposed to a number of derogatory beliefs and assumptions about the capabilities of people with lived experience when I raised the prospect of working in paid roles.

Unfortunately, over time, due to a challenging combination of lack of paid employment, the impacts of a cost of-living crisis, the Universal Credit child-limit (I have several children) and benefit cap, our financial situation worsened. 

I experienced numerous barriers to employment, including a lack of availability of childcare in my local area (I raised this with the local authority, social services, and my MP), lack of opportunity in the sector for people with lived experience of the Knock, and lack of support from any agency (including the Jobcentre) in finding paid employment. Applying for jobs took its toll – either being unable to find suitable hours of work around childcare, or being rejected for roles had a significant impact on my mental health.

My children and I were using the food bank and the food pantry for many months, and at the end of 2022, we ended up in a no-heat no-hot-water house after the boiler broke on the coldest nights and days of the winter. Suffice to say, my mental and financial health hit rock-bottom. I was so grateful to have members of the Knock community by my side, around the clock at this time as these were some of the darkest hours.

My work has been used anonymously by charities to raise awareness and funding, several times in the media (including the BBC), and referred to by MPs in parliamentary debate.

In addition to speaking out about the impacts of ‘the Knock’, I have become determined to highlight the challenges faced by people sharing their lived experience and to ensure that people who do so are effectively safeguarded.

I run a free writing group for family members affected by the fallout of the Knock.  The group is called ‘Writing Strong’.


Members don’t have to write about the Knock. They can write about anything and will be supported in doing so.

We discuss ways to use our writing to benefit our own life circumstances, as well as those of others. We explore ways to monetize our writing, and to ensure that we are valued for our time, as a lived experience community.

We also talk about ways to protect ourselves when sharing our stories, and how to decide whether a media, charity, or organization might be a good fit for our writing, and what safeguards we should expect from those seeking to utilize our stories.

Whilst my expertise is in fiction, blogging and nonfiction, the group is open to people wishing to write poetry, script, and experimental forms too.

As well as setting up ‘Writing Strong’, I set up my own writing business, choosing to become self-employed.  My services include blogging, web content development, ghost writing and mentoring.

In 2023, I became aware of Next Chapter Scotland and noticed that they were advertising for a freelance web content developer. I applied for the contract, and my submission was successful.

I have been working with Next Chapter Scotland since then to develop content for the website to help to signpost people with a conviction and their families to accurate information, help and support. It’s amazing to be able to utilise my own experience and my writing skills, whilst working with a team of people who are equally enthusiastic about creating hope for the future.

As a result of Next Chapter Scotland providing paid work, my children and I have been able to stop using the food bank/ food pantry altogether. My financial situation has finally started to improve. I have also been able to secure further writing work as a result of this contract. 

Having an income stream has made a huge difference to my mental health, and to the lives of my children.

Poverty is a like a hole. You fall into it, and it gets deeper and wider. We are still climbing out of the hole, but I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to regain some control over my life, following such a catastrophic series of events. To be able to provide for my children, whilst using my writing skills and lived experience to help others is a huge privilege.

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