Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is helping a South Tyneside charity tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) through her Supporting Victims Fund.
Commissioner Baird has granted an application from Bright Futures for a cash boost to help them provide specialist support to young women who are already, or are at risk of, being sexually exploited.
Safeguarding young people is a major element in helping to reduce harm to the most vulnerable in our communities and is a priority for me.Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird
The funding of over £9,500 will allow the South Shields-based charity to give these young women a safe and confidential environment where they can access non-judgmental help, advice, support and advocacy.
Their central aim is to prevent and allow young women to escape from sexual exploitation, plus protect those that are vulnerable.
As well as offering one to one support to young women, the charity will carry out a range of other activities including educational work in secondary schools and colleges.
They also hope to influence policy and begin a change in the approach taken to (CSE) by increasing the number of prosecutions, bringing more perpetrators to justice and providing ongoing and appropriate support to those affected.
Bright Futures will use detached youth work to engage and interact with young women, offering one to one support to stabilise their lives and providing a welcoming and friendly environment where they can build trusting relationships to overcome the difficulties they may have faced in the exploitative relationships they’ve been subjected to.
Through its Youth Projects initiatives, in Cleadon Park and Rekendyke, the charity will deliver educational group work sessions, offering young women opportunities to take part in positive social activities at times when they may be more at risk of being affected by CSE.
Commissioner Baird said: “Everyone needs to be aware of CSE and the signs to look out for so victims are given the help and support they need and those responsible for it are brought to the police’s attention.
“With that in mind, it’s incredibly important we have organisations like Bright Futures who are doing just this and it was therefore easy for me to make the decision to support them through my Supporting Victims Fund.
“Safeguarding young people is a major element in helping to reduce harm to the most vulnerable in our communities and is a priority for me.
“It’s vital young people identify when they are in a situation causing them harm, be it physical, or through coercive or controlling behaviour, recognise that it’s completely unacceptable and that they should seek help. “They will always be listened to and given the protection they need.
“This is vital to them having positive relationships in their future lives.
“I wish Bright Futures every success as their vital work continues.
“I will ensure that within Northumbria we will continue to work with a variety of people and organisations, including schools, parents, carers, social services, charities and local authorities, to identify victims of child sexual exploitation which will in turn lead us to offenders.”
Helen Bowman and Nicola Whalen, from Bright Futures, said: “Bright Futures would like to thank the Police and Crime Commissioner for the ongoing support of our work.
“These funds will enable us to educate young women and keep them safe which is the central aim of our service.”
For more information on Bright Futures go to www.brightfutures.uk.com.