The Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner has secured £32,227 from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to fund work with young males who have been victims of sexual abuse or at risk from harmful sexual behaviour.
Steve Turner, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said the cash will fund a pilot scheme run by Barnardo’s Tees Valley.
He said Barnardo’s will provide a safe environment, in which boys and young men can identify their support needs and access help.
Mr Turner said: “Sexual assault and abuse are often seen as a problem suffered by women and girls.
“Our research – and the experiences of Barnardo’s staff – suggest that many young men and boys are often suffering in silence.
“We want to empower boys and young males to come forward and access the support available to help them cope with sexual trauma.”
Emma Ramsay, assistant director for children’s Services Barnardo’s North Region, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support the identification and diversion of young men and boys from harmful sexual behaviour across Cleveland following the successful bid into the MOJ Male Rape Support Fund.
“The funding will enable us to provide therapeutic support to address their own experiences of sexual abuse and peer support through school-based activity.
“Peer support will provide safe spaces for boys/young men to explore masculinity, patriarchy, gender expectations, social media pressures and what it is like being a boy in society today.’
A combination of activities will offer immediate specialist support including one-to-one therapy for boys and young men, who have experienced rape and sexual abuse.
At the same time, the project will encourage participants to find their voice, take risks, make better life decisions, improve their self-image and become role models for future generations.
Funded by the MOJ’s Male Rape Support Service Fund, the pilot will allow participants to influence the development of new and existing approaches by professionals to support, recovery and engagement for boys, who have experienced trauma.
Part of the pilot will also be to develop a programme of ongoing peer support through school-based activities.