Parents and teachers urged to attend virtual webinars about dangers posed by County Lines
Professionals and parents are once again being urged to take part in a series of virtual workshops aimed at highlighting the dangers of criminal exploitation of young people in Norfolk.
The events are being hosted by St Giles as part of its ongoing SOS+ Project and will take place throughout June and July.
Hundreds of attendees have so far taken part in similar online sessions and it is hoped more parents and professionals will follow suit.
St Giles, were first commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) in November 2018 to run the SOS+ Project – the webinar sessions were launched virtually in September last year due to restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Encouraging people to sign-up to the events Norfolk’s PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie, said: “It is incumbent on us all to do all we can to safeguard children and young people and give them the right tools and education to help make informed decisions about their future.
“I hope as many parents and professionals as possible take the opportunity to take part on one of the online sessions. We can never do enough to protect our young people.”
By the end of each webinar – delivered by those with lived experience - it is hoped parents and professionals will, crucially be able to understand the meaning of the term County Lines, understand the methods used to exploit young people, recognise key signs and indicators and encourage healthy conversations with their children and /or students.
Feedback from professional and parent attendees has included:
“Excellent stuff. Long may this organisation continue your brilliant work.”
“Many thanks again. I’ve already had better conversations with my son about this, and felt more confident talking to him.”
“The entire session was interesting and information. Hearing first hand experiences brought it all home.”
The next sessions are due to take place on the 22 June and 20 July for parents and 16, 24 June and 14 and 22 July for professionals.
Clare Bradley, Contract Manager at St Giles, said: "The pandemic might have pushed County Lines away from the headlines but exploitation by drug gangs remains a serious issue across the UK, affecting children and young people from all backgrounds.
"We are proud to be working with the office of Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner to help prevent young people from becoming exploited and abused.
"Our staff have a mix professional training and direct personal experience of this issue, meaning people can hear the reality of what lies behind myths around County Lines."
National charity St Giles originally received £89,028 under the Hidden Victims’ Fund and a further £87,737 under the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund to run the three-year SOS+ Project which aims to provide 120 preventative sessions to around 8,600 schoolchildren in Norfolk.
Intensive one to one support is also offered for those deemed at high risk and awareness raising sessions delivered to parents and teachers.
Thousands of pupils, parents and teachers have taken part in the initiative. During the pandemic the team at St Giles, have been working hard to ensure the message continues to be spread.
As well as the webinars the team also created an animation, adapted for Key Stages 3 and 4, which tells the story of Nathan who is groomed and exploited by his best friend’s brother.
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St Giles is an award-winning charity using expertise and real-life experiences to empower people who are not getting the help they need, held back by poverty, exploited, abused, dealing with mental health problems, caught up in crime or a combination of these issues.