Derbyshire specialist child exploitation charity, Safe and Sound, has been appointed to extend outreach work in parts of South Derbyshire following a successful pilot programme.
The pilot outreach programme originally started in Swadlincote and was stepped up following a tragic stabbing in a local park which rocked the whole community. The geographical area has since been expanded to other areas in the district eg: Newhall in parks and places where young people tend to congregate.
Outreach workers and volunteers from Safe and Sound will continue to be joined by representatives from other agencies including Derbyshire County Council’s early help youth practitioners, sexual health specialists and Derbyshire police neighbourhood teams.
Key objectives of the outreach programme, funded by Derbyshire County Council, are to raise awareness of young people around grooming and exploitation, provide reassurance around community safety and gain the views of young people about services and support they needed to feel safer.
During the pilot programme, young people have highlighted specific places where they feel unsafe, have been signposted to positive youth activities they can join and have been empowered to be advocates amongst their own peers for community safety.
Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison explained: “Our team of outreach workers and volunteers, alongside representatives from partner agencies, have done a brilliant job in building relationships with young people across the district by providing a regular, reliable and approach presence in local communities.
“Our team is responsive and reacts to intelligence that is shared from partnership agencies – adapting routes according to the needs of the community – just as we also do on a weekly basis in Derby city centre.
“As well as raising awareness and feeding back issues that they are concerned about, we have received self-referrals from young people who need our help including one young person who we were able to help secure bereavement counselling that they desperately needed.”
Samantha Elks, Health Improvement Practitioner in Derbyshire Dales & South Derbyshire, continued: “The South Derbyshire Partnership are pleased to support Safe and Sound to deliver outreach youth work in the Swadlincote urban core.
“Outreach youth work is a valuable part of the support offer that is available to children and young people to aid their emotional wellbeing and to protect more young people from child exploitation.”
Chris Smith, Communities Team Manager at South Derbyshire District Council concluded: “This offer compliments the existing groups and activities available and enables children and young people, who may not access these opportunities, to have a voice and to gain support where needed.
“The outreach programme has therefore opened up meaningful engagement between different groups of young people and statutory agencies with everyone sharing the common goal of making South Derbyshire a safer and healthier place to live, work and enjoy.”
For more information about the work of Safe and Sound and to access resources and support, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk