The New and Emerging Communities Worker at Derbyshire’s specialist child exploitation charity Safe and Sound has been shortlisted for a national award in recognition of the positive impact that she is making on the lives of young people and their families in Derby’s inner city.
The Hope Heroes campaign is run by Hope Not Hate which aims to challenge and expose far-right extremism https://hopenothate.org.uk/about-us/
More than 300 people and organisations were nominated for the Hope Heroes campaign award and Safe and Sound’s Lucie Radova is just one of six to make the final.
The shortlist is now open to a public vote and Safe and Sound stands to win a cash prize to go towards the work it does to support local children and young people who are victims of or at risk of exploitation which includes sexual exploitation, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation.
Votes can be made online at https://act.hopenothate.org.uk/page/92586/petition/1 and there is also a blog written by Lucie about the work she does and the particular dangers that are faced by young people and their families in the new and emerging communities. https://hopenothate.org.uk/2021/11/01/vote-for-your-hope-hero /
Families coming to the UK from Eastern Europe in search of a better life are particularly vulnerable to exploitation for a number of reasons and Safe and Sound is a key part of the city’s successful New and Emerging Communities Project.
Vulnerabilities to child exploitation have been particularly magnified during the pandemic when young people and families have been isolated, have faced increased financial pressures and young people have spent more time online – making them more accessible to online grooming.
This has led to a 50% increase in Safe and Sound’s caseload across Derbyshire. In 2020, the charity supported 150 children, young people and vulnerable adults (of which 24 were Roma/Slovak) as well as 21 families affected by exploitation.
The approach taken to support new and emerging communities – particularly Roma families – has adapted in recognition that it is important for them to have a trusted person they can communicate with around the services engaging with them.
Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison, who nominated Lucie for the award, explained: “Lucie thoroughly deserves this recognition. Her skills have enabled Safe and Sound to provide better translation and understanding of the situation they were in and we have learnt that our support for young people has greater impact if we support the whole family.
“A key aspect of Lucie’s work has been to raise awareness across the city’s new and emerging communities about the dangers facing young people. This has led to a marked increase in referrals for support from community leaders, workers and families themselves.
“Throughout the pandemic, Lucie has also provided additional support for families. This has included helping them to understand news updates, securing funding for children’s home learning needs and setting up a system to enable families to get direct support from food banks and other agencies.
“She has used her extensive language skills to update families about the ever-changing guidance and restrictions – minimising the risk of the virus spreading across a community already feeling isolated.
“She has been able to create a positive feel across the community that they are not on their own so that they can support each other and obtain external support where necessary.”
One of the families being supported by Lucie and Safe and Sound is however turning a corner in a number of ways thanks to her patience and perseverance.
The single-parent family was first referred to Safe and Sound following reports that one of the three girls in the family was being targeted and groomed by older men. Lucie has been helping the 17-year-old girl to recognise that she was being groomed and to raise awareness amongst the whole family of the dangers.
Their younger brother, who is 13 and struggles to make friends, is also very vulnerable to getting involved in gangs who have started to lure him in with promises of money, gifts and a sense of belonging.
The family are trapped in sub-standard housing – which Safe and Sound is trying to rectify – and exist on a very low income.
Language and cultural barriers as well as a chaotic home life have meant that the young people’s attendance at school has been very poor.
During the pandemic, Safe and Sound and partner agencies have ensured that they have the computers and wifi needed to engage in virtual learning and the support worker has brokered better communications with their schools and training providers.
The younger teenagers have also welcomed the chance to do positive activities with Safe and Sound – such as boxing and table tennis – which has given them a focus and reduced their vulnerabilities to grooming gangs.
Wider family support has included accessing benefits and legal advice and supporting the mother to receive a learning disability assessment which have all contributed to building the family’s trust and improving relationships with authorities.
Lucie concluded: “I am honoured to have been shortlisted for this award. The focus for my work is that I want to give people in the city’s new and emerging community equal opportunities and help them believe in themselves.”
Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]