Specialist local charity Safe and Sound has bought its first minibus to enable youth and support workers to help and protect more children and young people in local communities.

Safe and Sound supports children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation including online grooming, sexual exploitation, trafficking, drugs lines, modern slavery and radicalisation.  The charity also supports the wider family and raises awareness in local communities of the dangers facing young people.

The six-seater bus has been bought with the support of Derby-based personalised gift company Colleague Box and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire.

It will be an important part of Safe and Sound’s Outreach programme and will also enable more children and young people to benefit from sport, creative and volunteer activities.

Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison explained: “The minibus will really broaden the scope and scale of what we are able to do to support and protect children and young people in our local communities.

“The pandemic and particularly the third lockdown has left many young people isolated and the increased time spent on social media and gaming sites has made them far more vulnerable to online grooming.

“The minibus will be a focal point for our Outreach programme in local parks where we know young people gather as daylight hours draw out.

“This makes them more vulnerable to exploitation by individuals and criminal gangs and our key aim is to raise their awareness of the potential dangers they face and highlight how they can get help and support.

“Our youth work team will also be able to use the minibus to safely transport more children and young people to and from a wide range of activities that will greatly boost their confidence and self esteem.

“We are very grateful to both Colleague Box and the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner for their support to make this a reality.”

Natalie Bamford, Creative Director of Colleague Box and a former teaching assistant who worked with children with special educational needs, said: “Christmas was an extremely busy time of year for us and we decided to donate £1 from the sale of each of our Christmas boxes to Safe and Sound.

“In total, we have raised £5225 and are delighted that the money has been used to help buy the minibus for this valuable local charity who do such a brilliant job of supporting young people, their families and transforming lives.

For more information on the work of Safe and Sound and how to support the charity, please visit https://www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk/ and visit Colleague Box https://www.colleaguebox.co.uk/

Photo shows Natalie Bamford from Colleague Box, centre with Safe and CEO Tracy Harrison and Chair of Trustees Allen Graham.  Picture credit Laura Firth, MiniAperture Photography https://www.miniaperture.co.uk/

Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]