Safe and Sound Steps Up Outreach Work in South Derbyshire

Safe and Sound Steps Up Outreach Work in South Derbyshire

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

Head of Safe and Sound Receives Honorary Degree

Head of Safe and Sound Receives Honorary Degree

The CEO of Derbyshire charity Safe and Sound, which supports children, young people and families affected by child exploitation, has received an honorary degree from the University of Derby.

Tracy Harrison spent 32 years in the police force, rising through the ranks from Constable to Superintendent. She received five Chief Constable’s Commendations as well as the Police long service and good conduct awards, the National British Association of Women in Policing nomination for mentoring, and the Queen’s Jubilee and British Olympics medals. When she retired from the Force in 2019 she became CEO of Safe and Sound as she wanted to work for a local charity supporting children and young people. Under her leadership the charity has become widely valued for its work in local communities in Derby and Derbyshire. Tracy received an Honorary Master of the University (HonMUniv) at the University’s awards ceremony in Buxton in recognition of her work. She received her award alongside hundreds of University of Derby graduates at the ceremony at the Buxton Campus in the Devonshire Dome.

Tracy said: “I am incredibly humbled to receive this honorary degree from the University of Derby and this is testament to the high regard with which the charity and everyone associated with it is held across the county. “Child exploitation is an issue that is easier to ignore but this recognition from the University will hopefully further raise awareness that this can happen to any child and young person in our local communities and is a real and present danger that we all need to be alert to.”

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, added: “We were delighted to celebrate with all of our students graduating at Buxton and to have awarded this important honorary degree as part of the ceremony.
“Tracy Harrison’s work for Safe and Sound follows an exemplary career with the Police, and her passion for people and leadership have transformed the charity and ensured its long- term future. It is a pleasure to recognise her hard work and commitment to young people’s safety and wellbeing with this honorary degree.”

For more information about the work of Safe and Sound and to access resources and support, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk

The Value of Volunteering

The Value of Volunteering

By Tracy Harrison, CEO of Safe and Sound

The voluntary, or third sector as it is also known, is crucial to the health, wellbeing and safety of our local communities and, as the name suggests, volunteers are the backbone of such organisations.

As the head of Derbyshire’s specialist child exploitation charity, Safe and Sound, and someone who has personally volunteered for numerous charities all of my adult life – I was particularly pleased that the King’s Coronation weekend focused heavily on putting something back into local communities through the Big Help Out.

This has given extra resonance to this year’s Volunteers Week (June 1-7) which recognises the fantastic contribution that volunteers make and a chance for organisations such as ourselves to thank them for their commitment and support.

Safe and Sound is fortunate to have a team of fantastic people who give up their time voluntarily and unpaid to enable us to protect and support young people and their families whose lives are affected by child exploitation.

Our volunteers support us in a number of ways.  For example: parents of children targeted both online and in person by perpetrators have progressed to become peer mentors – supporting other families through their journey.

Our youth work and outreach teams are supported by volunteers with an array of life experience to ensure that we can reach out and engage with young people across the city and county.

We also have a wide range of professionals who provide support for the charity – taking on roles as trustees and ambassadors and also providing their expertise to us free of charge.

I however want to highlight that volunteering is also a great opportunity for individuals, and particularly young people, to gain the valuable work experience that opens doors on new and exciting job opportunities.

This is exactly the case for two university students who both came to us as volunteers and have now been appointed into full time roles.

One young person worked with our SEND case worker supporting children, young people and families with special educational needs which is vital work as these challenges greatly increase a young person’s vulnerability to grooming and exploitation. Having proved her worth as a placement student, she has now finished her degree and recently accepted a full-time role at Safe and Sound as a case worker and outreach worker.

Another young person volunteered at Safe and Sound whilst also studying at university. She supported the outreach team, was heavily involved in youth activities over the summer as well as helping to raise awareness in schools of the dangers facing young people.  She too will soon be joining the Safe and Sound team in a full-time role as a case worker and outreach worker.

Volunteering is therefore a win/win for both individuals and the organisations that benefit from their energy, commitment and enthusiasm.

With this year’s national celebration week under our belts – I appeal to individuals and to businesses to consider how they can incorporate volunteering into their working and home lives.  Their input really can make a positive difference to the lives of so many people in our local communities.

 

Blame-Free Words And Actions Are Key For Young People’s Online Safety

Blame-Free Words And Actions Are Key For Young People’s Online Safety

I have written before about the devastating consequences that victim blaming has on young people’s lives and how ill-informed judgements, words and actions can potentially lead to them not getting the support they need to move forward with their lives.

In this column, I want to focus on online grooming and the damage that victim blaming can have on young people experiencing these crimes. The vast majority of the young people we work with have initially been targeted by perpetrators through social media and online gaming channels.

Online grooming usually starts with a connection and the perpetrator works hard to build a relationship – exploiting the vulnerabilities that a child or young person may have. Most commonly, the perpetrator’s goal is to persuade and even bribe a young person into sending inappropriate images of themselves or agreeing to meet with them in secret. When this comes to light, it is very common for friends, parents and even professionals to slip into victim blaming – saying: ‘why did you accept that friend request’ or ‘why didn’t you just ignore it’?

By, even unwittingly, putting the onus on the young person and then taking away phones or laptops – we are essentially blaming and even punishing the young person – not the adult
who has perpetrated these crimes.

It is important to remember that we live in an increasingly technological world which most young people embrace but which we, as adults, may not completely understand. Therefore, as parents and family members, please try to research and better understand the world of social media and online interaction that your child wants to do. Most importantly, please try to keep conversations open and non-judgemental so that, if they are in danger of online grooming, they are more likely to talk to you about it. My final plea is to work alongside your young person to maximise online privacy settings and explain why it is important to do so.

Adventure Challenge Lined Up For Coronation Bank Holiday

Adventure Challenge Lined Up For Coronation Bank Holiday

Derbyshire’s specialist child exploitation charity, Safe and Sound, is inviting people to spend the King’s Coronation bank holiday tackling an action-packed fundraising challenge.

Monday May 8 has been declared a Bank Holiday following the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and people are being encouraged to join the Big Help Out and make a change in their local communities.

Last year, Safe and Sound supported a record 343 children and young people aged eight and above who had been victims of or at risk of child exploitation including online grooming sexual exploitation, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation. The charity also supported 40 families whose lives had been affected by exploitation.

The charity heavily depends on fundraising to pay for its specialist 121 and group support, outreach and positive youth activities programmes.

Safe and Sound’s ‘Earth Wind and Fire’ adventure challenge starts with a morning walk around the Peak District or Darley Park.  This will followed by a 80ft abseil off Miller’s Dale Bridge in the Peak District and the day will finish with a late afternoon fire walk on burning coals at Darley Abbey Mills.

Participants can join individual challenges or all of the activities and the sponsorship money raised will go towards supporting Safe and Sound’s programmes for young people and families.

Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison explained: “We have been planning our ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ adventure challenge for several months and when the Big Help Out was announced as part of the Coronation weekend, we thought it would be the perfect day for our three-pronged fundraising event.

“We last did the ‘Leap of Faith’ sponsored abseil on February 29 2020 when 39 brave supporters helped us raise more than £10,000 so we hope to smash that target this year.

“I will of course be joining in and I look forward to welcoming many others who are keen to put something back into their local community, help support our work and raise awareness of the growing dangers of exploitation facing young people both online and in our local communities.”

For more information and to sign up for the ‘Earth Wind and Fire’ adventure challenge, please visit https://www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk/earth-wind-and-fire-adventure-challenge/

Race Night Fun For Charity Fundraisers

Race Night Fun For Charity Fundraisers

A Race Night, organised by local charity Safe and Sound, romped home above target – raising more than £4,000 to enable the charity to support more children and young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation.

More than 130 people attended the event at Nicco restaurant and bar in Pride Park including the Mayor of Derby Cllr Robin Wood and representatives from a wide range of local businesses.

Race sponsors included Loates HR Consultancy, Wathall’s, Timms solicitors, Cosy, HUUB, Colleague Box, Logic Barn and JJPR.

EVAD, Invictus Communications and Derby Daybreak Rotary Club each sponsored and specially designed cocktail for the evening and other sponsors included Melbourne Print who supplied the race programme, MiniAperture Photography who offered individual headshots during the evening and Derby LIVE who provided technical support.

Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison, who was compere for the evening dressed as a jockey, said: “This is one of our major annual fundraising events and we are grateful for the support, once again, of the Derby business community.

“Thanks to sponsorship and the support of Nicco, we were able to plough the money raised on the night directly into the charity which will now be used directly on our support programmes for children, young people and families whose lives are affected by child exploitation.

“Demand for our support grows year on year and it is heartening that so many individuals and businesses recognise the value of work in local communities to protect and support those vulnerable to exploitation.”

Last year, Safe and Sound supported a record 343 children and young people aged eight and above who had been victims of or at risk of child exploitation including online grooming sexual exploitation, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation. The charity also supported 40 families whose lives had been affected by exploitation.