Safer Communities Fund helps young women at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (14 Mar 2016)

Thirty young women a week in Leeds are being kept safe from sexual exploitation thanks to funding provided by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Getaway Girls which is based in Harehills, Leeds, has supported the young women aged 11-18 years old with a range of issues including relationships, family, emotional health, sexual health, housing, behaviour and sexual exploitation. They received a grant of £4,480 from the PCC's Safer Communities Fund which uses money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. They've used it to find two workers - one of whom speaks Czech, Polish and Slovak. These two workers have built a good rapport with the young women and been able to offer a range of support as well as providing fun activities in the park.

They've been able to offer outreach/mobile sessions twice a week at Banstead Park and Ashton Park which has allowed them to build up a rapport with the young women, offer a range of support and provide fun activities. The staff go to the parks, where the girls hang out, with the mobile and are based there for two hours.

Flavia Docherty, Director of Getaway Girls, said: "The funding is crucial for helping to keep very vulnerable young women safe. The workers support the young women who are not known to other services or who don't want to engage with statutory services.

"The funding helps to make a real difference to young women's lives by offering support when they need it in a space where they feel staff understand them. They feel welcomed, listened to and supported. Without this funding, girls would be more at risk of exploitation and without the support they need to help them take steps to change their lives."

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: "I am really pleased that the money from my Safer Communities Fund is being used in this way. Helping vulnerable young women avoid being sexually exploited is vital and offering this mobile service at the two local parks is an effective way to reach them and offer this support. It was great to visit the area last year and hear directly about the Getaway Girls project."

The next grant round of the Safer Communities Fund opens on 14th March, 2016. For more information and how to apply please visit /safer-communities-fund/about-the-fund.aspx

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