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Safe and Sound’s specialist team provides a wide range of practical and emotional support for the families of children and young people who have been groomed and exploited.

This includes holding Peer Group sessions twice a month where parents and carers can come together in a safe space to share their lived experiences and support one another.

The groups are regularly attended by senior representatives from services such as police and social care to answer questions and gain feedback from parents and carers with the aim of improving services that affect them.

Some of the group members have even produced a video which is used by statutory services in the county as part of their in-house training around child exploitation.

Here are some of the experiences and feedback from members of the Peer Group:

Mum N:

Mum ‘N’ and her family have been through a living hell even since their fears were confirmed that their young son had been groomed and abused by a neighbour.

Mum found out what was going on when one of her friends spotted the neighbour behaving inappropriately with Sam and told her. She immediately called the police and took him to the GP but her son (then aged 10) wasn’t ready to talk fully about his ordeal.

It was only after countless meetings and sessions with one of the Safe and Sound’s specialist support workers that he finally felt ready to speak up.

She said: “My son’s sleep pattern had been very erratic and that lack of sleep was impacting on everything. He would stay up until 4.30am. When we went to see our GP they referred us to Safe and Sound which was great because we needed help and I just didn’t know how to deal with something like this.

“I am so grateful to Safe and Sound for their support. Something like this can just tear your family apart and you feel like you have nowhere to turn.”

Mum T:

Mum ‘T’ has faced countless challenges since her son was first groomed aged 13 and coerced into a life of drug dealing and violent crime.

Her son is now 17 and she had to give up her career to supervise him when he was given a rehabilitation order and strict curfews after being convicted of drug and violent order offences. Her son has APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) which increased his vulnerability to grooming and he has not been in education or training for sometime.

“We don’t live like normal people because of how my son behaves but he seems oblivious to what he is doing to himself and us as a family.

“In fact, he doesn’t even see us as his family – the people he knows and who he works for are his family.  You just can’t compete with the manipulation and particularly the money that they can get their hands on.

“He is now 17 and things are ramping up. He’s out all hours of the night and it feels like I have lost my son and that there is now an alien living in the house. I am nervous every time I see headlights coming towards the house and particularly when someone knocks at the door.

“From day one, it has been physically draining to know where to go to get help – whether that is for my son or for us as a family – and I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Safe and Sound supporting me.

“Facing other people’s judgements is the worst thing. A lot of services have pre-conceived ideas about what the family of a drug dealer looks like and are visibly shocked when they see a normal, educated person with a good job.

“Judgement from other family members is the worst and it seems futile telling people what you are going through.

“We and our children are the victims in this.  We are not the enemy and it is important that our voice is heard.”

Mum J:

Mum ‘J’ and her husband adopted their daughter when she was four-years-old.  Born to parents who were heroin addicts, she had been severely neglected during her formative years. Although her behaviour was challenging, matters took a serious turn for the worse when she started secondary school – an environment that she found profoundly traumatic.

Throughout Year eight at school Lisa became increasingly involved in risky behaviours such as talking to strangers online, making some very inappropriate friendships and running away from school and home overnight – putting herself at huge risk. 

J explained: “My daughter has since been diagnosed with a number of psychological conditions including attachment disorder due to her early childhood trauma.  Her desire to be part of the group has meant she was easily led and yet could not appreciate the consequences of her actions. This made her an easy target for online grooming with one man in particular contacting her and the real worry was that she was regularly going missing.”

We were assigned a support worker from Safe and Sound who consistently worked with her on a wide range of issues that were unfolding in her life including online safety, sexting and healthy relationships.

“At a very traumatic time in all our lives, Safe and Sound were a positive, professional and calming influence.”

“Most importantly, the support worker did not judge her or us but was a listening ear. She was totally focused on our daughter and the approach of challenge with support made a positive difference.”

Supported By

Awareness

Our awareness sessions are delivered to schools, families, community groups and professionals. By raising awareness we can help prevent exploitation occurring.

One to One Support

For children or young people who are at risk of being exploited, we give them a dedicated support worker who works with them individually to address their risk factors.

Disruption & Youth Work

Complimenting our support services, our Youth Work team will introduce children and young people to positive activities like sport or music enabling them to socialise in a safe environment and build their resilience to risk.

Transition

Some children and young people who have had their risk of exploitation addressed still need further help. Our transition process provides them with life skills, mentoring and a longer period of help as they move back to normal day to day life.

Education

In partnership with the University of Derby, our Education Worker will develop new resources and offer educational sessions with a real focus on hard to reach groups and those with special educational needs or a disability. This will include a greater presence online. By improving understanding at an early stage, we can help keep the most vulnerable children and young people safe.

Family Support

Our independent family support service recognises the impact that exploitation can have on the whole family. This work helps families to understand what has happened to their child, provides them with emotional and practical help and empowers families to work with us to disrupt exploitation whilst ensuring their wider needs are met.

Outreach

Outreach enables us to engage children and young people who might otherwise struggle to access our services or don't know about the support we can offer. By being visible in the community we can actively raise our profile with children and young people whilst also discouraging potential predators.

Training Professionals

For many years we have been keen to share our experiences and best practice ideas with other professionals working in Childrens Services and related professions

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