Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people

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Building on friendships to create safety

Last updated: 03 May 2022

This Spotlight features Nicola Maxwell (Strategic Lead for Specialist Adolescent Services), Ben Wyatt (Senior Practitioner in the Youth Offending Team), and Sabrina Streeter (Senior Social Worker within the Young Person's Drug Treatment Team), from the East Sussex County Council. They tell us about how they worked with a group of young men at a youth club.

This work came out of a broader piece of contextual work, under the 'East Sussex Contextual Safeguarding Pathfinder', that took place in Hastings during the Covid-19 lockdown period. During the first national lockdown, a number of adolescents were going missing and found in other counties in properties associated with criminal activity. A group of young men became the focus of a police investigation. They were all friends, and all were at risk of criminal exploitation. Despite their best efforts, professionals struggled to engage with them on an individual basis, but some of the young people were opened to engage in activities alongside their peers. The intervention at a youth club developed as a result.

The animation on this page was designed with the young men in the group to tell others about how their group developed and, in the podcast below, Nicola, Ben and Sabrina share their reflections on this intervention.

There was also a webinar on 9th March 2022 showcasing this project and other work which came out of East Sussex Contextual Safeguarding Pathfinder – the link to the recorded webinar is available on the Youth Justice Resource Hub.

Podcast

Building on friendships to create safety

Building on friendships to create safety

2022-04-14

This podcast shares an example of how relationship-based approaches can be used when working with a peer group at risk of criminal exploitation. Nicola Maxwell (Strategic Lead for Specialist Adolescent Services), Ben Wyatt (Senior Practitioner in the Youth Offending Team), and Sabrina Streeter (Senior Social Worker within the Young Person's Drug Treatment Team), from the East Sussex County Council, discuss how they brought the group together at a youth club. This was a new way of working for their them, marking a shift from seeing friendships between young people engaged in criminal or harmful activity as a source of risk, to building on the strengths of those friendships within the peer group to create safety.

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