Derbyshire-born actor Molly Windsor, who starred in a television drama about child sexual exploitation and has since been an active ambassador for local Safe and Sound, has been officially recognised with an award.
Molly, who lives in Breaston, has starred in several film and television dramas including ‘Three Girls’ which highlighted the manipulative methods used by perpetrators targeting vulnerable children and young people in Rochdale.
She connected with Safe and Sound whose expertise particularly came to the fore during the 2010 landmark case – Operation Retriever – which was Derby’s first prosecution for child sexual exploitation and abuse. Safe and Sound’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.
Over the past five years, Molly has worked to raise awareness of child exploitation, raised vital funds and met with many of the young people and families whose lives have been affected by exploitation and who are supported by Safe and Sound.
Her voluntary work was recognised recently by The High Sheriff of Derbyshire Michael Copestake who visited Safe and Sound’s offices in Darley Abbey to find out more about the work of the charity which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
He presented Molly with The High Sheriff’s Certificate which is awarded to those who go above and beyond to support their local communities.
Mr Copestake said: “Safe and Sound do an amazing job in protecting and supporting some of the most vulnerable young people and families in our local communities and Molly’s dedication to helping the charity on a voluntary basis is outstanding.”
Molly continued: “Over the last few years, it has been a pleasure to see all the fantastic work Safe and Sound is doing.
“Since ‘Three Girls’ aired, I have found lots of people open up to me about child exploitation and their own experiences so being able to point them towards Safe and Sound is invaluable as I know that anyone who reaches out to the charity will be listened to and supported.
“It was such a surprise to be given the award from The High Sheriff. It means a great deal and I look forward to continuing to work with and support Safe and Sound.”
Safe and Sound chair of trustees Mark Richardson added: “Molly has worked tirelessly for the charity and really engages with the young people that the fantastic team here work with.
“We really value her support and willingness to speak about the issue which affects so many people’s lives. Having an ambassador with a public profile is invaluable in helping to break down the taboos about child exploitation which is an uncomfortable but important issue to bring out into the open.”
Safe and Sound supports an increasing number of children, young people and their families whose lives have been affected by exploitation including online grooming, sexual exploitation, coercion to run drugs through County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation.
Last year the charity worked with 203 young people (compared with 150 the previous year) as well as 49 families whose children are being groomed and exploited.
Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison concluded: “Child exploitation had long been a real and present danger across all sections of society – affecting boys and girls regardless of where they lived, their family circumstances, backgrounds, cultures and age.
“Our workload has particularly increased since the start of the pandemic when young people were at increased risk of online grooming which escalated into in-person exploitation.
“Raising awareness of the dangers is more important now than ever and we are very lucky to have Molly as one of our ambassadors.
“The drama ‘Three Girls’ continues to a valuable tool in our work to raise awareness of child exploitation and one of our young people recently said that she only realised that she had been groomed and exploited by who she thought was her boyfriend having watched the programme.
“We are grateful that The High Sheriff of Derbyshire took time out of his busy schedule to visit us, find out more about our work and present Molly with this prestigious award.”
For more information about the work of Safe and Sound and how to support them during their 20th anniversary year, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk
Picture shows, from left: Mark Richardson, The High Sheriff of Derbyshire Michael Copestake, Molly Windsor and Tracy Harrison.