Specialist child exploitation charity Safe and Sound has welcomed news that the Government has pledged further support for frontline charities during the pandemic.
Chancellor Rishi Sunack announced yesterday (Wednesday April 8) that charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.
Safe and Sound works across Derbyshire to support children and young people who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation which includes sexual exploitation, gangs, County Lines, modern slavery and trafficking as well as their families.
The specialist team continues to provide virtual support more than 40 children and young people across Derbyshire and is taking new referrals from concerned families, professionals and from young people themselves.
A key role for the charity is also raising public awareness of child exploitation through sessions in schools and local communities and is continuing to do this through online education with sessions with virtual groups looking to upgrade their training during lockdown.
CEO Tracy Harrison said: “We are very relieved that the Government has announced this support package for charities and will be investigating how we can potentially access these funds.
“Our work with children and young people experiencing or at risk of exploitation is more important than ever during these unprecedented times.
“Social media and gaming sites are proving to be a lifeline for parents and their children as they adapt to being at home, but we must also recognise there are heightened risks.
“Just as parents would ask who their children are meeting up with in person, It is more important than ever for parents to have regular conversations with their children about what they’re doing online and to reassure them they can come to you with any worries.”
During the lockdown, the Derby-based charity is available online for private conversations on Facebook with young people themselves, parents, other family members and fellow professionals between 10am and 11am and 3pm and 4pm or available by telephone on 07726 694680.
Messages received on Facebook or Instagram outside these times will be responded to daily and feedback to commonly asked questions will be anonymised and posted elsewhere on their website.
This is in addition to the usual ways to contact Safe and Sound between 9am and 5pm on 01332 362120 and email [email protected] and anyone with urgent concerns about the wellbeing or safeguarding of a child or young person are advised to call 101.
The charity is sharing an online pack of bitesize information for families on the dangers facing young people: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/support-tools/home-activity-worksheets/
Mrs Harrison concluded: “Despite the challenges, the 40 plus young people that we are already working with are very engaged with the team but we are expecting an increase in referrals for help and support as lockdown continues.
“We have therefore broadened our channels of communication for young people, families and any other professionals who are concerned about the dangers and specific behaviour that is developing.
“Last year saw an all-time high of 18,000 children and young people being groomed and sexually exploited in the UK.
“Research by the NSPCC also suggests that more than 200,000 secondary school children in the UK have received or been asked to send explicit messages or images online.
“Equally worrying is the rise in the wider criminal exploitation of young people such as County Lines with young boys and girls being forced into drugs operations and there is a growing incidence of trafficking and forcing young people into modern slavery.
“Whatever the motives of perpetrators, child exploitation can potentially destroy the lives of any young girl or boy – regardless of where they live, their family situation, cultural or social background.”
For more information about Safe and Sound, information about the danger signs, support available and how to support the charity’s work, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk and follow on social media channels.
Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]
About Safe and Sound
Formed in 2002, Safe and Sound is an inspiring Derbyshire charity that transforms young lives affected by child exploitation with innovative, hands-on programmes.
The charity works at grass root levels delivering individual support to each child as well as families and carers. This vital support enables them to move not just to a place of safety, but emerge unshackled and undefined by their experience and enabled to reach their full potential.
The charity continues to specialise in child sexual exploitation and is now developing its services to support children and young people facing or at risk of wider exploitation which are often interlinked. These include physical and emotional violence, neglect, modern day slavery, radicalisation and human trafficking, domestic abuse, missing episodes and County Lines.
Safe and Sound is led by former police superintendent Tracy Harrison with the support of a specialist team; an experience board of Trustees and now a team of Ambassadors who are helping to raise the profile of the charity and the issue of child exploitation.
Safe and Sound’s expertise came to the fore during the 2010 landmark case – Operation Retriever – which was Derby’s first prosecution for child sexual exploitation and abuse. The charity’s specialist team supported every young person affected by the criminal actions of 13 defendants who were jailed in total for up to 22 years for 70 offences.
For more information about child exploitation, Safe and Sound Derby and how to support their work, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk