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.”
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]
In case you missed it, here is a piece by BBC East Midlands Today highlighting the dangers that young people face from being groomed and exploited by County Lines drugs gangs. One of the parents we support has been brave enough to tell her own story and highlight the warning signs that other families should be aware of.
If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, you can talk to Safe & Sound. We’re here to offer advice, signpost you to support or help you make a referral into our service if you need to. So whether you have a serious concern about County Lines or just a few questions, please get in touch with us.
Laura-Rose Gee, who is currently studying Creative Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing at the University of Derby, joined Safe and Sound to deliver six workshops that aimed to encourage and enrich healthy relationships between family members through the use of creative arts.
Laura-Rose has a passion for making the arts accessible and beneficial to the well-being of all ages. Her passion is to connect and increase the self-confidence of others and has a wealth of experience delivering therapeutic art sessions to vulnerable people.
The workshops that Laura-Rose devised were tailored specifically to the need of the families. The aim was to increase the self-confidence of each individual and allow creative self-expression through different art forms. The main focus has been to encourage positive behaviour and improve respect, communication skills and emotional wellbeing which resulted in improved family relationships.
All the activities were designed to be fast-paced and included music, drama, art, movement, and mindfulness. The workshops, all based on working together, included projects of poetry, storytelling, creating art, writing music and nature-based activities. Laura-Rose facilitated a positive reward activity, enabling each family member to create origami butterflies and their own butterfly catcher to take home. Acts of kindness and positive behaviour were acknowledged with a butterfly which could be kept in the personal butterfly catcher.
Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison said: “It has been fantastic to see the positive influence Laura-Rose has made on a family’s home environment through creative art therapy. We have seen a great improvement in communication and self-confidence of the young people Laura-Rose has engaged with and we are looking forward to working with more families.”
Leading commercial property consultancy BB&J Commercial have adopted child exploitation specialists Safe and Sound as their charity of the year.
BB&J Commercial are based in The Wyvern and operate across the East Midlands – providing expert advice on all types of commercial and land.
The company have supported a number of local charities since they were established in 2010 and are planning a range of fund-raising activities in the coming year for Safe and Sound.
Partner Mark Richardson also recently became a Trustee of Safe and Sound which 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.
He explained: “BB&J Commercial are active members of the local business community and I was keen to get involved with Safe and Sound from a governance, education and fund raising point of view to help this incredible charity better connect across the city and county.
“I was delighted when colleagues agreed that we should all play our part in helping this charity to protect and support young people and their families in our local communities.
“As well as fund raising, we are keen to help raise awareness of child exploitation and highlight to our business and personal contacts that any child, anywhere, can fall victim to this criminal activity. It is therefore an issue that we all need to recognise and challenge in our everyday lives.”
To launch their year of fund raising, BB&J Commercial have joined the growing number of businesses and individuals who have sponsored a Hope Box which is given to young people supported by Safe and Sound to help them in their journey to re-build their lives.
The Hope Box, designed by Derby-based personalised gift company Colleague Box, is filled with calming activities, treats and positivity messages.
Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison concluded: “We are very grateful to BB&J Commercial for choosing us as their charity of the year.
“Their broad networks and their enthusiasm to raise money for the charity will help us support so many more young people and their families.
“The Hope Boxes that they have sponsored carry an important message to our young people and their families that they are not alone and are something that they can keep referring to and take comfort from in dark times.
“Our workload has significantly increased in the past year largely due to the increased vulnerability of young people who have faced social isolation during the pandemic.
“Our team works with these young people for as long as they need it with 1:1 and group support, positive activities, help to return to education or into work and practical support to help them move forward with their lives in a positive way.
“We are also working hard to support their families with the wider issues that they face such as financial hardship and mental health.”