Child Sexual Exploitation (known as CSE for short) is a form of child abuse. It happens when a young person is manipulated and tricked into an exploitative relationship with one or multiple abusers. The young person is groomed into what seems like a normal friendship or relationship. The abuser gains the trust of the young person, sometimes this is done online, or in person and then exploiting that trust for their own gain. CSE can happen to any young person so educating young people to be aware of healthy relationships in order to help them understand any potential risks is our main aim for the Safe space service.
At Getaway Girls we have been providing the Safe Space Service for 7 years – an early intervention / preventative combination of work, which includes; supporting young people on a 121 basis, group work in schools. Outreach / detached work in places where young people may be at risk. Our role involves creating a tailor made package to support the young persons current level of need. We look at healthy relationships , online safety, protective behaviours, exit strategies, grooming and exploitation, alcohol and drug misuse, child criminal exploitation awareness and awareness of unequal power and control between peer on peer relationships. We also run confidence and self esteem sessions.
Getaway Girls use a youth work approach when delivering our sessions and by using a strength based approach we build and maintain a trusting relationship with the young people we work with. We find this enables the young people to feel safe and confident enough to talk to us and disclose any potential safeguarding issues they may be facing. We work closely with schools and colleges, youth centres and social care to find a space where the young person feels comfortable and confident. We use a range of activities to engage well such as, games video resources, quizzes and discussion.
We measure the progress each young person has made by measuring their evaluations and knowledge on each subject area. We also complete ending quizzes to see how much information they have retained over the programme and where any extra sessions are needed.
We have found the role supporting young women in Leeds extremely rewarding and watching the young women growing in confidence and learning new skills and tools to deal with these issues shows that we are doing the right thing. We receive feedback from the young people, teachers and social workers about the progress made and we are continuously looking at new ways to make the service inclusive to all young people, including those facing potential language barriers and differing learning styles and disabilities. The aim is to empower all young women to find their strengths and build on their ambitions through Getaway Girls’ style of support, challenge and fun.
One of our CSE workers commented: ” As a CSE worker my role gives me the opportunity to empower young women that have felt powerless whilst supporting them to build upon their self-esteem. Being able to create a safe space for a young woman to be heard and not be judged is so important in the work that I do. Giving a young woman the understanding that she has a right to feel safe underpins all of the work that I do around CSE.”
Some feedback from young women that have been through our CSE programme:
“I have learnt how I can keep myself safe and that I have the right to feel safe.”
“After receiving my support I now feel better about myself, as I blamed myself and now I understand that it wasn’t my fault.”
“I feel confident about making positive choices for myself, and understand the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.”
“I feel really lucky to have been able to talk to someone from Getaway Girls because I can say things that I wouldn’t usually say to other people like my teachers because they wouldn’t understand. My worker supported me through everything and didn’t make me feel like a child.”
“I really enjoyed the sessions at Getaway Girls because I could say how I felt without being judged and I could ask questions I wouldn’t normally ask in class. I learnt new things every session and I really liked my worker and I knew i could trust her. It was really fun!!”
If you know a child you think might be at risk of CSE, please get in touch with us, we can help.