IWF Hotline Manager wins Unsung Hero Award for 'profound' contribution to keeping the internet safe

Published:  Mon 12 Oct 2020

The IWF’s Hotline Manager has been recognised as an “unsung hero” of the voluntary sector for his “profound personal and professional contribution” to making the internet a safer place.

Chris Hughes, who has worked at the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) for nearly nine years, oversees the IWF’s hotline and leads a team of analysts whose job is to assess images and videos of suspected child sexual abuse to help get them removed from the internet.

Chris was awarded the accolade at this year's Third Sector Awards, which recognise the achievements of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

The Unsung Hero Award celebrates individuals who “make a difference to the lives of others and is not always recognised”.

According to the judges, Chris does “Sterling work of such a difficult but important nature”.

The judges said: “Chris really has made a profound personal and professional contribution to the reach and impact of the Foundation's work.”

The awards were held digitally this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chris said his team does one of the toughest jobs in the world, and paid tribute to their resilience working during the pandemic.  

“Chris really has made a profound personal and professional contribution to the reach and impact of the Foundation's work.”

Chris said: “It’s lovely to be recognised like this, and I think it is really a tribute to all the hard work the whole team does.

“As an organisation, we see some of the most terrible things on the internet and, every day, we do everything we can to make the internet safer for everyone, particularly children.

“If we can get images of children suffering sexual abuse removed, we know we have done a little bit to help those children. We know if the images are still being shared online, those children’s abuse continues and they are revictimised over and over again, even after the physical abuse has ended.

“Chris, and our whole hotline team, are true heroes. They selflessly do what they do, and we all owe them our thanks for helping make the internet a safer place to be."

“We have had a seriously busy few months but, for me and everyone on our team, we will continue to work, pandemic or no pandemic, to make sure children are protected and the internet is kept safe. That is why we do this.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “Chris really is an exceptional character. His professionalism and compassion embody everything the hotline is about, and I am so pleased to see him getting this well-deserved accolade.

“Chris, and our whole hotline team, are true heroes. They selflessly do what they do, and we all owe them our thanks for helping make the internet a safer place to be.

“Because of them, some of the worst criminals around have fewer places to hide, and children are that much safer from abuse and exploitation. We are very grateful to Chris, and all the hotline, for all the work they do.”  

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