Funding worth £1m awarded to reduce risk of children being sexually exploited

PUBLISHED: 16:16 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:16 24 August 2018

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A £1.1million grant has been awarded to help children and young people at risk of exploitation and abuse in North Somerset.

The money will pay for a new specialist project to help vulnerable children in the area over the next four years.

North Somerset Council successfully applied for the money from the Government’s Trusted Relationship Fund.

The project will intervene early to support young people most at risk of abuse or being criminally exploited.

Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Early intervention is vitally important to give vulnerable young people the best chance in life and steer them away from destructive harms.

“I am delighted to announce that the Trusted Relationship Fund will be providing support to such a valuable project in North Somerset.”

The project is designed to address each young person’s needs and will address the specific vulnerabilities of looked after or missing children and those with special educational needs and disabilities.

It also focuses on providing support to parents and carers to help strengthen protective family relationships.

The Trusted Relationship Fund was launched earlier this year following a review carried out by the Early Intervention Foundation.

The review, commissioned by the Home Office, found a trusted relationship with an adult is an important part of programmes to support vulnerable children.

It also highlighted a lack of trusted relationships is consistently cited as a contributing factor in cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Social support can help children avoid risky situations and overcome adverse circumstances in their lives.

A trusted relationship can also make young people more likely to speak out if they are being abused.

The Early Intervention Foundation also showed the importance of testing the effectiveness of the interventions, which will form a key part of the fund.

A number of other local authorities across the country were also given awards to fund projects in their areas.

An NSPCC South West of England spokesman said: “Child sexual exploitation is often a hidden crime that leaves victims feeling trapped and with nowhere to turn. Offenders deceive and manipulate vulnerable children, who don’t always understand that they are being abused.

“Any new scheme which raises awareness of this awful behaviour and helps young people spot the warning signs is hugely positive.”

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