A ‘community hub’, dedicated to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), made possible thanks to funding secured by Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, has been given the stamp of approval by national CSE charity, NWG. NWG is a charitable organisation with a UK network of over 12,000 practitioners who deliver information to professionals tackling CSE and trafficking.
The new facility at the SafetyWorks! Interactive Safety Centre is the first of its kind in the North East and has been designed to educate young people about the dangers of CSE and how they can seek help.
The new ‘community hub’ joins a number of other exciting interactive safety scenarios designed to help a wide range of people avoid every day hazards and risky situations including road, fire and home safety. The centre is managed by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service in partnership with Northumbria Police and other agencies.
CSE is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It is often a hidden crime as young people often trust their abusers and they don’t understand they are being abused.
Young visitors, and other interested community groups, are now able to learn about internet safety, online grooming, 'sexting' and other potential risks that can be posed by social media. The bespoke sessions are delivered by specially trained Police Community Support Officers in a comfortable setting which encourages visitors to actively take part in the discussions.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said: "The new community hub learning zone demonstrates our commitment to helping prevent the very real dangers modern society unfortunately presents. The facilities have been very well received by our local visitors and I'm delighted it has received an accolade by a national charity which specialises in this field.
"Our focus is on educating local people about the dangers of CSE and I'm extremely pleased by the number of schools and other community groups visiting SafetyWorks! who are booking sessions specifically to learn about how to stay safe online and what they can do to avoid these dangers. The more people we reach out to with awareness and very important safety messages, the better."
Sheila Taylor, MBE, Chief Executive of the NWG (formerly The National Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People), has endorsed the new educational facility and has paid a special visit to SafetyWorks!, in Newcastle to see the new Community Hub facilities for herself. She said: "Having visited this learning facility and seen it in action educating young people, then I can only say how amazing that an established project with such a variety of learning environments has been adapted to incorporate Child Sexual Exploitation education within a range of other personal safety messages, not making it the only issue but part of how we need to educate our young people on improving their ability to stay safe in our society today.
"The ability of the staff to incorporate important messages at bespoke sessions aimed at concerns raised and their engagement with all those who attend the centre is fantastic. A credit to the area, and in particular those very dedicated individuals I met to ensure it is a raging success. I look forward to coming back to see how it progresses."
Gill Elvin, SafetyWorks! Centre Manager from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “The new child sexual exploitation sessions are a welcome addition to the important safety messages we offer at SafetyWorks!, which help to protect vulnerable people from a wide range of hazards. They are being very well received by visitors and we’re getting some very positive feedback. We’re very grateful to PCC Vera Baird for the funding which has made the new additions to SafetyWorks! possible.”
For more information about SafetyWorks!, please visit www.safetyworks.org.uk
For more advice in relation to CSE please visit Northumbria Police
For more information on Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, please visit www.twfire.gov.uk
For more information about the NWG, please visit http://www.nwgnetwork.org/
This visit took place on 4th August 2016