Sophie Andrews is Chief Executive of The Silver Line Helpline, the only free, 24/7 confidential helpline for older people in the UK that she launched nationally in 2013. As well as her paid professional career in the charity sector she has volunteered for the emotional health helpline, Samaritans for over 25 years and was National Chair between 2008-11. She was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list in December 2017. But Sophie’s life story is a roller coaster ride of emotions and is much more than just her professional achievements.
Growing up, Sophie carried a terrible secret. She was her father's slave, in the most horrific ways imaginable. At just a few months old she was adopted by a couple that seemed comfortably well off and perfectly respectable to the outside world. But behind closed doors, Sophie's childhood was a living hell. Her father spent the next decade grooming her for abuse and when Sophie's mother left for good, that very night, he told Sophie that from now on she would sleep in his bed. Unable to cope, Sophie spiralled into suicidal misery. She began to self-harm to try and escape the agony. But one day she went too far and at 16, ended up in a psychiatric unit. It was here that she finally confronted the horrors of home and began the painful journey of rebuilding her life.
Sophie will talk about her childhood experiences and how she managed to slowly recover but also pay back to the organisations (like Samaritans) who had helped her along the way. Her story is one of incredible resilience and demonstrates very powerfully that it is possible to overcome the worst start in life. Her book Scarred was published in 2008 and ten years on she still received emails on a daily basis from people who have been inspired by her words. Sophie is an accomplished public speaker and was recently asked to present a TEDMED talk in Palm Springs. Her talk has now been posted on the TED site and has received over 1.5m views. Sophie is now writing a second book which is a novel that once again draws on her life experiences.
The University of Gibr