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Safe and Sound Supports Young People During Coronavirus Measures

Specialist child exploitation charity Safe and Sound is stepping up its communications channels to offer advice and guidance about keeping children and young people safe both in person and online in light of school closures, social distancing and self-isolation caused by the Coronavirus.

From Monday March 23, the Derbyshire charity’s support workers will be available online for private conversations on Facebook with young people themselves, parents, other family members and fellow professionals between 10am and 11am and 3pm and 4pm or available by telephone on 07726 694680.

Messages received on Facebook or Instagram outside these times will be responded to daily and feedback to commonly asked questions will be anonymised and posted elsewhere on their website.

This is in addition to the usual ways to contact Safe and Sound with the office phone staffed between 9am and 5pm on 01332 362120 and email info@safeandsoundgroup.org.uk  and anyone with urgent concerns about the wellbeing or safeguarding of a child or young person are advised to call 101.

Safe and Sound works across Derbyshire to support children and young people who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation which includes sexual exploitation, gangs, County Lines, modern slavery and trafficking as well as their families.

Chief executive Tracy Harrison explained: “As the county’s leading specialist and independent child exploitation charity we know that the growing dangers facing young people in our local communities.

“As the effects of the pandemic on our daily lives grows, our greatest concern is those children and young people who are not going to be in school or college and may not have their usual support structures in place.

“A particular worry is that young people will naturally be spending more time on social media channels and therefore could potentially be at greater risk of online grooming.

“We therefore wanted to broaden our channels of communication for young people, families and any other professionals who are concerned about the dangers and specific behaviour that is developing.

“Despite the restrictions on interaction, our team is maintaining contact and support with the vulnerable young people who we already work with.

“However we know that there will be many others who are already in danger of exploitation and that this may go further under the radar during these unprecedented times.”

She continued: “Last year saw an all-time high of 18,000 children and young people being groomed and sexually exploited in the UK.

“Research by the NSPCC also suggests that more than 200,000 secondary school children in the UK have received or been asked to send explicit messages or images online.

“Equally worrying is the rise in the wider criminal exploitation of young people such as County Lines with young boys and girls being forced into drugs operations and there is a growing incidence of trafficking and forcing young people into modern slavery.

“Whatever the motives of perpetrators, child exploitation can potentially destroy the lives of any young girl or boy – regardless of where they live, their family situation, cultural or social background.”

For more information about Safe and Sound, information about the danger signs, support available and how to support the charity’s work, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk  and follow on social media channels.


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