A Faith and Communities Champion Service called ‘Engage ME’ has been contracted to deliver a community outreach and education programme within faith and minority ethnic communities in Leicester, Leicester and Rutland to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.
The programme is halfway through a 12-month contract and is being funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Engage Me is an award-winning, UK-wide service which uses a culturally and faith-sensitive approach to support groups working with children and young people in order to adopt best practice in relation to safeguarding. The main objectives of this programme are:
- Supporting groups working with children and young people to adopt best practice related to safeguarding.
- Increasing awareness and understanding of abuse in all its forms and the ability to recognise signs of abuse.
- Increasing awareness and understanding of children’s rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Increasing awareness of measures that can be taken to prevent abuse.
- Empowering minority ethnic children and families to disclose abuse.
- Increasing awareness of relevant support services.
Engage Me staff have been working with minority groups across LLR to achieve these aims. Already they have delivered 14 sessions to children and adults from the Bahai community, Krishna society, Muslim Community, Christian community, traveller and gypsy (Leicestershire GATE), Jain and Hindu communities. This week they are holding sessions for refugees and asylum seekers and they are also engaging with the Sikh community.
In addition the team use a ‘train the trainer’ approach and have delivered training to 45 community champions who will continue the good work of the programme when the contract ends.
The sessions have been extremely well received and some of the comments from participants are below:
Comments from children about what they learned from the session:
- Always tell my mum and dad or tell an adult (if something doesn’t seem right)
- Don’t meet people I don’t know
- I know more about how to stay safe
- Meaning of consent
- Don’t accept strangers as friends
- Safe and healthy relationships
Comments from professionals, parents and carers
- Really interesting and ideas on ME cultural sensitivity eye opening.
- Very pleased with the training that was delivered today. I hope to utilise my skill set with my school.
- Points that stood out to me were the risks of social media, vulnerability of young people and the warning signs of grooming.
- My little sister was in the session on internet safety and keeping safe. She really enjoyed it and was still talking about it the week after, thank you for your work.
An engage me spokesperson said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Federation of Muslim Organisations to bring this innovative approach to faith and community organisations within the LLR boundaries.
“Our programmes are co-designed by children and young people to ensure they will engage with them effectively. CSE can often be a taboo subject and we have been inspired by the appetite of local faith and community groups to engage with us in training, tackling stigma and barriers to reporting and accessing mainstream services.
“Having engaged successfully with so many diverse communities we are committed to keeping the momentum going and building on the foundations we have laid for future engagement on this and other relevant safeguarding issues.”
Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lord Willy Bach, recognising the value of this programme, has provided the funding.
He said today: “Protecting all the vulnerable members of our community is one of the most important elements of our work. This programme is helping young people from minority ethnic communities to be more aware of this repugnant and often unreported crime.
“No-one should suffer in silence and I hope that we can also encourage people to come forward and report their experiences. By increasing awareness of the dangers, what is right and what is wrong, is the best way we can help them and their families, to protect themselves.”
Further information about engage me is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted on Monday 21st May 2018