Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has provided vital funding to support a charity’s specialist work with vulnerable young people who are victims of or at risk of exploitation.

The Commissioner visited  Derbyshire-based charity Safe and Sound to meet project leaders and volunteers for an insight into the work they are undertaking to transform the lives of young people and children who are at risk of child exploitation including sexual, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation.

The charity successfully applied for funding from the PCC’s Large Grant Community Action Grant scheme and was formally presented with a cheque for £24,460.

The funding will secure the services of a family worker to provide specialist support to families directly impacted by child exploitation including the child, siblings and parents.

Mr Dhindsa said: “There are many vulnerable young people in need of support and guidance to protect them from exploitation. Safe and Sound’s work not only helps prevent young people from becoming victims of crime, it also offers support to the whole family which is vital in mitigating all the risks children are exposed to today from social media through to unhealthy or harmful relationships.”

Tracy Harrison, chief executive of Safe and Sound, added: “The impact on the wider family of young people who have been or are at risk of being targeted by perpetrators cannot be underestimated and I am delighted that we now have a dedicated resource to support them.

“Our holistic family support work also addresses the wider issues that affect families – particularly financial hardship and isolation – which can make young people vulnerable to grooming for criminal purposes such as County Lines.

“We are therefore grateful for this additional support from the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner in recognition of the valuable grassroots work that Safe and Sound provides in local communities across the county.”

Since January this year, the charity has worked with 123 young people and their families. -The youngest person supported was seven years old with the majority then being 14-16-years-old. A third were male and two thirds female and 30% of the young people had special educational needs or disability (SEND). Young people were from a wide range of cultures: the majority white British closely followed by Roma/Slovak as well as some black and Asian young people.

The majority of referrals have been around child sexual exploitation – particularly online grooming which has increased during lockdown – but the charity is seeing increasing risk of other criminal exploitation – including County Lines.

As well as being vital support to families of young people affected by or at risk of child exploitation, further help has included access to food banks and wider services and awareness sessions have continued both online and through the charity’s new community outreach programme which has also been supported by the PCC