Young People's Circles
In 2015, the SLF became increasingly aware of the need for Circles of Support and Accountability for young people who have demonstrated sexually harmful behaviour - both as a result of national statistics which show that "between 23-40% of all alleged sexual abuse of children and young people is perpetrated by other young people, mainly adolescents" (Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse, NSPCC, April 2014) and actual requests to the charity for support for young people. In October 2015, the SLF received funding from the Worshipful Company of Weavers to scope out and run Young People's Circles. A Young Persons' Project Manager was appointed in April 2016 and between April and December 2016 the scoping for the project took place.
The Young People's project went 'live' in January 2017.
Young people with sexually harmful behaviour
Young people eligible for this project are likely to be particularly vulnerable. Some will have been abused or neglected themselves and are therefore categorised as both survivor and perpetrator, meaning that working with them effectively is particularly complex. Support packages will be tailored to individual needs and last for around 12 months. Many of the factors which lead to harmful sexual behaviour in young people are similar to those impacting on adult offenders and therefore we will utilise the expertise and experience we already have in terms of working with adult offenders. However, what differs from most adults that sexually offend is that children and adolescents are still developing, both physically and psychologically, so well targeted interventions can be extremely effective in terms of changing attitudes and behaviour, and so, preventing more victims.
What will a Circle for young people look like?
The Safer Living Foundation's Young People's Circles project will work with young people living in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire, aged 10-21 who have been cautioned or convicted of a sexual offence and who require additional support to help improve their emotional well-being and decrease their social isolation. Young people will be referred to the project by agencies who are already working with the young person. Each Circle will have between 3 and 5 volunteers and these volunteers will be made up of a mix of demographics (different genders, ages and ethnicities). A Circle meeting will consist of the young person and all the volunteers.
In order to engage young people and build on their strengths and interests, the Circle will utilise activities such as sports, the arts and music to build rapport, gain trusting rehabilitate the young person. The Circle will focus on reducing the young person's social isolation, loneliness and impulsivity which in turn should lead to feelings of belonging to communities and increased determination to avoid anti-social and criminal behaviour. this pro-social intervention is designed to enhance the young person's social skills and confidence and will help young people to desist from problematic behaviours before they become entrenched in adulthood.
We are currently recruiting volunteers for all our Circles projects. If you are interested, click here for more information.
We are very grateful to have received support from the following funders: