Safe and Sound, the Derbyshire based child exploitation charity, is supporting this summer’s NCS programme with a series of awareness raising sessions for young people.
Safe and Sound supports children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation which includes online grooming, sexual exploitation, County Lines, Modern Slavery and trafficking as well as supporting their families and raising awareness of the issues in local communities.
Support workers from the charity have been invited by Derby County Community Trust to hold sessions for more than 250 local young people who have signed up to the NCS summer programme.
The sessions focus on emotional resilience, how their own lives have been affected by the pandemic and how this has increased young people’s vulnerability to exploitation.
Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison said: “Our workload has doubled during the past 18 months because the pandemic, and particularly periods of lockdown, has dramatically increased young people’s vulnerability to exploitation – particularly online grooming and by drugs gangs who are running County Lines.
“As well as supporting young people and families, an important part of our work is to raise awareness of the dangers that face any child or young person – regardless of their age, sex, cultural background or family circumstances.
“Our sessions as part of the NCS programme have therefore focused on helping young people realise the link between emotional resilience and vulnerability to exploitation.
“By raising awareness of the dangers facing young people in our own city and county, we hope the NCS graduates will be more confident to recognise, challenge and support others who are victims of or at risk of exploitation in their future lives.
Derby County Community Trust NCS Project Manager Emma Pilgrim continued: “Derby County Community Trust are thrilled to have a long-standing partnership with Safe and Sound, particularly through our NCS programme.
“Improving lives and communities through education is a key part of our charity’s mission, and the workshops that Safe and Sound deliver to our young people is vitally important.
“In teaching them important messages around their own and other’s safety, which forms part of the project’s central objectives, we are helping to set them up for their next steps in education, employment or training. We look forward to continuing our work alongside Safe and Sound in subsequent projects.”
For more information about Safe and Sound and how to support the work it does, please visit https://safeandsoundgroup.org.uk/
Derby City Council and Safe and Sound, the Derbyshire charity working with children, young people and families affected by child exploitation, are launching the new Safe Places Derby campaign on Wednesday 7th July
The joint initiative will be looking to identify businesses and venues in Derby that can become a ‘Safe Place’ for children and young people, giving them somewhere to go if they feel they are at risk of harm within their community.
If approached by a child or young person, businesses and venues that sign up to become Safe Places would be required to contact their parent/carer or, in more serious matters, the Police. While this doesn’t require any training, Safe and Sound are offering any necessary safeguarding or child exploitation training.
Those businesses who sign up to the scheme will be given a window sticker to identify them as a Safe Place knowing that they are playing an important role in keeping young people in Derby safe.
Children and young people in Derby can, unfortunately, be more likely to be more at risk of exploitation and harm than other areas of the country due to a number of factors. Of the 63,000 under 18s in the city, 21% live in low-income families and Safe and Sound’s workload has doubled in the past year.
Cllr Evonne Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services, said:
“The Safe Places campaign is a great step towards creating a safer city for vulnerable children and young people, so it is extremely welcome to be progressing our work with Safe and Sound. It is vital that our young residents have places to go where they can feel safe, and I would encourage any businesses or venues that can become a Safe Place to do so.”
Safe and Sound are a long-established charity supporting children and young people who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation. They also support the wider family and raise awareness of the dangers facing young people in local communities.
Tracy Harrison, Chief Executive of Safe and Sound, said:
“Over the past months, many young people who have been socially isolated for so long may well feel anxious about getting out and about again and lack confidence to cope with situations.
“Young people have also been spending far more time on social media and gaming channels – increasing their vulnerability to online grooming or sexual and other criminal purposes such as involvement in drugs lines. There are therefore widespread concerns that these online relationships will evolve into direct exploitation.
“As society starts to get back to the ‘new normal’ Safe Places Derby, therefore, adds another layer of support for young people who need to re-adapt to life.”
By Tracy Harrison, chief executive of Derbyshire’s specialist child exploitation charity, Safe and Sound.
Children and young people have undoubtedly suffered throughout the pandemic – missing out on attending school, activities and enjoying social interaction which has all taken its toll on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Even more worrying is that this isolation, the fact that most have spent more time online and the pressure on family finances throughout the past 18 months has made many young people far more vulnerable to being groomed by criminal gangs and individuals both online and face to face.
We support young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation which includes online grooming, sexual exploitation, involvement in drugs gangs as well as trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation as well as supporting their families and raising awareness of the dangers facing young people.
In line with the national picture, we have seen a 50% increase in referrals for the support in the past year which confirms the real and present danger to a growing number of young people in our local communities.
A particular impact of child exploitation is the toll it takes on a young person’s self-esteem. As well as supporting and protecting the young people we work with, our youth activities programme has focused on re-building their confidence and helping them find their voice so that they can move forward with their lives.
A great example of this has been the incredible Youth Voice project created by Derby Theatre and Baby People.
The young people chose equality and sexism as their subject matters and then worked with artists to create a rap and two dances which they performed to a small audience, including Derbyshire-born actor Molly Windsor.
Molly was inspired to become an ambassador for Safe and Sound after starring in the television drama ‘Three Girls’ – based on the true stories of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale between 2008 and 2012.
One of the highlights of that final day was seeing a young person involved in the project talk about how amazing it was to meet Molly and how she shared that watching ‘Three Girls’ had helped her come to terms with her own experiences.
This young person is now looking forward to a positive future but would never have had the courage to speak up before this inspirational creative project. She is living proof of just how valuable it is to invest in such work to give young people the chance to boost their confidence and find their voice.
There are many more young people whose confidence and self-esteem has been impacted by Covid so my plea is that we all, in whatever walk of life we are, do all that we can to ensure young people can draw a line under these unprecedented times and find their voice so that they too can move forward with their lives.
Derbyshire-born actor Molly Windsor, who is an ambassador for child exploitation charity Safe and Sound, was the guest of honour at a performance to celebrate an innovative creative project for local children and young people.
Safe and Sound teamed up with arts organisations Derby Theatre and Baby People to enable ten boys and girls to join the Youth Voice project as part of the charity’s work to help them overcome their experiences of child exploitation.
The young people chose equality and sexism as their subject matters and then worked with artists to create a rap and two dances which they performed to a small audience, including Molly Windsor.
The actor was inspired to get involved with Safe and Sound after starring in the television drama ‘Three Girls’ – based on the true stories of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale between 2008 and 2012.
She said: “The rap and dances were incredible. They were all really confident and it was my pleasure to present them all with a certificate and a Hope Box which Safe and Sound has created, sponsored by local businesses, to support young people further on moving on with their lives.
“I was particularly heartened to hear that one of the girls involved in the project found that watching ‘Three Girls’ had helped her come to terms with her own experiences of sexual exploitation. It was a real honour to have the chance to hear about how she is much more positive about her future having worked with Safe and Sound.”
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.
Safe and Sound youth worker Sally Littlewood added: “We started with a confidence building session and the artists from Derby Theatre and Baby People were inspirational in helping the young people to find their voice and translate their feelings and views into a rap and dances.
“Re-building a young person’s self-esteem and encouraging them to find their voice is so important in their transition from experiencing child exploitation and is something that we focus on across all the activities that the young people engage with.
“As the project developed, it was incredible to see their confidence grow and the quality of the work they produced and performed was amazing – so much so that one of the girls now has the chance to record the rap that they wrote with Baby People.”
To sponsor a Hope Box, please visit the new Safe and Sound website https://www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk/2021-support-ideas/ where there is information about how else to support the charity’s work and a wide range of resources for parents, professionals and young people themselves.
Picture shows, from left: Laura Ryder (Derby Theatre), Joe Sheridan (Baby People), Molly Windsor and Sally Littlewood
Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]
Over the half-term week, the young people had 2 opportunities in which they were able to get involved in.
On Tuesday we had Loudspeaker in to provide a confidence-building and present yourself workshop. This workshop focussed on giving young people the tips and tricks they need to build their confidence, embrace who they are, how to use their newfound skills in interviews/presentations/jobs and everyday life, all whilst being their unique self!
Over the next three days, 10 young people were involved in the Youth Voice project provided by Derby Theatre where they discussed and decided on a topic which they felt passionate about – they chose Equality. They then worked with a Laura who works in theatre, and Joe who is a music producer and DJ to create an art form to represent their topic. They ended their project with 1 rap and 2 separate dances exploring equality and sexism.
From day one, you could see incredible growth in confidence from all the young people, beginning their day with Loudspeaker not wanting to speak in front of anyone and some feeling shy introducing themselves – but with a day full of the tips, tricks and amazing ice breaker games, they ended the day on a presentation selling a pointless object (diet water, pet rocks, two-person hoodie etc) and only 2 young people didn’t present which was amazing to see! They all got stuck in with the activities, asked questions and built so much confidence in such a short space of time.
The Youth Voice Project then gave these young people the opportunity to show their newfound confidence and skills whilst creating an art piece that they felt passionate about. Every young person that attended got more stuck in than I could have ever hoped for! All bringing something different to the project from dancing skills, leadership, teamwork, lyric writing and so much more! They decided on day one that they would look at equality, including sexism, sexuality, racism and culture. In the space of 3 days, the group created a 2 and a half minute rap in which 6 of them were recorded to be part of, 1 dance focusing on how schools won’t allow a girls football team, and another dance looking at women at work. This showed their pure determination, motivation, and encouragement to get this project completed to an amazing quality! These final products were then seen/heard by Rukus the Baby People Ambassador, and our ambassador Molly Windsor who was so impressed with what they had achieved! To celebrate what the young people had achieved in such a short space of time, we then held an awards ceremony where me, Laura, Joe and Molly presented them with a certificate and Hope box to congratulate them on an amazing week.
Blog from our youth worker, Sally Littlewood.
When Tracy asked me “Do you want to volunteer for Safe and Sound? ”, it took all of 0.5 seconds to positively respond. The original idea was that I could utilise my experience and contacts working with licensed premises and raise awareness of Child Exploitation. The more I researched the subject, the more I wanted to know…Was this really 2020? Were our children really so vulnerable? Unfortunately, the pandemic then hit by March and the country went into lockdown. The Nighttime economy disappeared overnight. With more young people turning to the internet for company, the risk of exploitation increased. I carried on researching, preparing potential presentations.
After the first lockdown, I was asked if I would be interested in coordinating the volunteers. That was easy, there weren’t many! Including myself, there were four of us on the books, two of which performed very specific valuable roles. Shortly afterwards, I was delighted to hear that another ex-colleague from our old job, who I had a lot of respect for, had joined the volunteering team. Tracy had snared another to share the Coordinator role! We quickly hit the road running (you really had a little alternative with Tracy!), being introduced to key contacts and developing ideas on how to recruit volunteers. My own research discovered that volunteers were the best advert to recruit other volunteers and never a truer word was said. Potential volunteers were being suggested to me from all angles. Staff colleagues, attendees at partnership meetings, ex-service users to name a few. Derby University and Nottingham Trent University have been of invaluable service in spreading the word.
By April 2021, we now have 20 ‘active’ volunteers, all of which regularly contribute to the spectrum of Safe and Sound activities. We have a wonderful team, from a complete range of backgrounds and experiences … and what personally most impresses me most is that they come back time and time again, wanting to do more. Such is the passion of a Safe and Sound volunteer …
Stephen Fairbrother, Volunteer awareness worker and volunteer coordinator.
At Safe and Sound, we aim to transform children and young people’s lives for the better and we want you to help us with that vision. We are looking for BRILLIANT people to join our team and be part of our journey too.
We welcome applications to include why you want to join Safe and Sound, and the skills and experience which you would bring to the charity. Applications should be sent to [email protected] or alternatively contact Stephen Fairbrother, Volunteer Coordinator on 07736 972628 (available on Thursday or Friday) for an informal chat.