'Stop It Before It Starts' supports youngsters at risk
Above: Barnardo’s child sexual exploitation experts Clare Ruggier, Jessica Juon, Serrina Lobban and Rich Faulding at the launch
South Thames College this week hosted the launch of the Barnardo's charity's Stop It Before It Starts programme. The culmination of three years targeted work with local faith and culture groups the project aims to prevent children being sexually exploited.
Children and young people who are at risk of being sexual exploited will be protected by specialist Barnardo’s workers carrying out targeted prevention work in three London communities. Experts will work directly with communities in Wandsworth as well as the London boroughs of Hackney and Barking & Dagenham.
The children’s charity will deploy one expert to work closely with faith and cultural groups in Wandsworth, another to focus on the dangers facing boys and young men in Hackney, and a third to help address sexual exploitation among children with additional needs in Barking & Dagenham, particularly those with autism and learning disabilities.
Each of the Stop It Before It Starts programmes will run for three years. They are funded by the Big Lottery, Trusts for London and City Bridge as part of a city-wide push to reduce the risk of young people becoming affected by sexual exploitation.
Lynn Gradwell, Director of Barnardo’s London, said, “We know first-hand how easily young people can become involved in situations that lead to them being sexually exploited, and we also know we’re only scratching the surface in terms of the scale of this issue in London.
“It’s a sad reality that young people are being sexually exploited in the capital right now, and many more will become the victims of damaging abuse in the future. Stop It Before It Starts will enable Barnardo’s specialists to support their communities, helping to protect chilOctober 17, 2016gns before it’s too late.”
Senior Practitioner Serrina Lobban, who will work with faith and cultural groups in Wandsworth, said, “Wandsworth is a diverse borough that includes lots of different faith and cultural groups with strong links to their communities. By working closely with community leaders I hope to reach as many people as possible, helping them to understand that sexual exploitation is always a danger no matter what someone’s faith or cultural background.”
Senior Practitioner Nisha Devgan, who will work with community and voluntary groups to support young people with autism and learning disabilities in Barking & Dagenham, added, “Sexual exploitation is a danger to all children and young people and those who have learning disabilities can be at greater risk of being targeted. I want to help families and voluntary and community sector workers and volunteers Barking & Dagenham understand those risks so they are better equipped to look out for the signs that sexual exploitation may be happening.”
Senior Practitioner Rich Faulding, who will work with young men in Hackney, said, “Boys and young men are often pressured to take part in sexual activity against their will just as girls and young women are, and that’s a reality in Hackney as much as anywhere else. I want to help young men break the taboo of talking about this and avoid being exploited themselves, or getting involved in situations in which others are being sexually abused.”
Barnardo's is marking its 150th anniversary this year and has a history of transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children in the UK. To find out more about the Stop It Before It Starts service please contact Barnardo’s Pan-London Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Service on 020 7700 2253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 13, 2016