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Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Confidence Workshop in the SAFE Kent Project

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

On Monday the 6th of August, Gwen from the SAFE Kent project held a workshop on confidence. We discussed what confidence is, how it makes us feel and how it helps us in life. Lots of tips were shared on how to improve on confidence and the young people gained an understanding of how confidence differs in different situations based on our experiences and expectations.

When we had finished the learning part of the workshop we sat down to do some art on the theme of confidence. Some of the art work can be seen below. One of the young people drew himself and wrote ‘if there is a need there is a way’. We discussed adaptations of this saying in different languages, one of which is ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way. Another young person drew a bird of prey and wrote about ‘ flying above circumstances’. He spoke to me about how the bird represents him and his ability to overcome circumstances and not let them get in the way of what he wants to achieve in life.

Another young person drew himself at the bottom of mountains with a rocky road and a big sun at the top. He explained how the sun represents hope which he will always need and will get him through the mountains, which represent obstacles and challenges in life. He told me how important hope is in keeping his motivation going.

    

If you would like to make a referral to the SAFE project in Kent, please email referrals@asphaleia.co.uk.

asphaleia Marketing at Kent County Council Conference

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

This week asphaleia attended a conference at Kent County Council where we were part of a marketing place for attendees. The conference was attended by professionals from other local authorities and the aim was for Kent County Council to share best practice by supporting Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and how this has been managed over the years with large numbers of children entering Kent. The conference was attended by many professionals, some councils who we work with in other areas and also other organisations we have worked with who support young people such as the Refugee Council, KRAN, Kent Kindness Maidstone and the Red Cross. asphaleia was represented by Jodie Brown, the Care Manager, who shared information about our current services in Kent which include:

  • Our outreach service supporting young people in the community to learn and improve their independent living skills both at home and out in the community.
  • SAFE project working with young people who are supported to address any gaps in understanding around citizenship, respect for women, acceptable behaviour and attitude.
  • Palm Tree project providing therapeutic art work to young people to support them around mental health and well-being.

If you wish to make a referral to any of our services please contact us at referrals@asphaleia.co.uk.

 

Can Stress Ever be Useful? Our Young People on the Palm Tree Project Find Out!

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

We’ve all felt it, those butterflies and the tight knot in our stomach. Stress can help us cope and take action when needed and give us motivation. However stress can also become too much. Too much of the negative kind can lead to us struggling to cope.
Stress was this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in May. On the Palm Tree Project, young people discussed what makes them stressed and what helps them cope.

Understanding how stress can also be useful helps to see this as a more balanced issue in life and not just one of negativity. Finding out what makes us stressed and what relieves our stress can be even more useful. A tool that can help make sense of this is the stress container (also sometimes called a stress bucket) tool designed by the Mental Health Foundation of England. Have a look for yourself, and share with anyone who might find it useful!

The stress-relieving activities offered by young people below are listening to music, playing guitar or cricket, and talking to friends. Young people found these things help them either discuss things that make them stressed and feel better about them, or provide a distraction from these- which makes them feel better. Talking about what helps you cope even when you feel good can be very important. It helps you remember in times when you do really need them, even though they could be the simplest of things, they can make a big difference!

The Palm Tree Project works with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children under the care of Kent Social Services, aged between 13-18 years. The project uses mentoring, art and music sessions to support better mental health and well-being. Contact Gwen in Maidstone on 01622 690 857 or at gwenvanstappen@asphaleia.co.uk to find out more.

         

Facebook Tops List of Sites Used for Online Grooming

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Figures show that since April 2017:

  • 32.6% of grooming cases involved the use of Facebook
  • 18.8% of grooming cases used the Facebook owned apps Instagram and WhatsApp
  • The second most-used app in grooming cases was Snapchat.1

Figures released by the Home Office on 26th April 2018 show that the total number of police-recorded grooming offences for the first 9 months of 2016/17, including both the offence of meeting a child following grooming and the new offence of sexual communication with a child, was 2,966. (NSPCC, 2018)

Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe online:

  • Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
  • Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself.  Once you’ve put  a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
  • Keep your privacy settings as high as possible.
  • Never give out your passwords.
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know.
  • Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online.  Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do.
  • Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are.
  • Think carefully about what you say before you post something online.
  • Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude.
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately.

 If you are a young person, carer or professional and need further support with keeping children and young people safe online, please contact headoffice@asphaleia.co.uk for more information or to speak with one of our SAFE project workers based in Worthing, London and Kent.

Slipping Through The Net – 16 and 17 Year Old Victims of CSE

Monday, June 18th, 2018

16 and 17 can be both exciting and anxious ages; about to become an adult but no longer a child, these teenagers are expected to make choices about what to do with their lives, and without the right support they could become vulnerable to CSE (child sexual exploitation).

The Children’s Society states on its website that:

“We know from our own specialist services that people who sexually exploit children particularly prey on the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds. They will go to great lengths to target vulnerable young people, using gifts, affection, money, alcohol, drugs – or the promise of love. Victims are commonly teenagers in the care system, with backgrounds of abuse and neglect, learning disabilities or with mental health problems.”

Children of any age can be victims of CSE, but young people aged 16 and 17 often find that even though children’s services have a duty to step in and provide support for them when they are experiencing serious difficulties in their lives, for many 16 and 17 year olds, support is too short term, does not help them prepare for adulthood and can disappear overnight when they reach 18.

16 and 17 year olds can legally consent to sex if they are within a healthy relationship, but because of this legality there is often a dangerous lack of understanding amongst professionals that these teenagers can also be groomed and exploited just as easily as younger children. Many older teens are not seen as victims, as it is assumed that they have ‘consented’ to their abuse.

The Law:

 

0 – 12   – Children this age are fully protected.  Sexual offences against any child under

13 are always crimes.

 

13 – 15 – Children aged 13 – 15 cannot legally consent to sex, they are protected, but

only if the defendant cannot reasonably believe the child was 16.  This is

thought of as the ‘grey age’.

 

16 – 17 – As this age group can legally consent to sex, they are only protected in very

limited circumstances e.g. cases of sexual abuse by a family member, person

in a position of trust, pornography or what used to be known  as ‘prostitution-

related’ offences.

16 and 17 year olds are just as likely to be referred into children’s services as younger children; clearly the level of need for older teens does not diminish as they approach adulthood.  However, the overall accepted referrals for this age group are 1 in 16.  Statistically, most of the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds may also be not in education, employment or training and potentially fall through the cracks in the services.

asphaleia’s safe project in West Sussex takes referrals for young people from the age of 10 up until 25.  We recognise and understand that just because the young person is an older teenager or even a young adult, this does not automatically make them less vulnerable to CSE and our support does not stop once they reach 18.

Do you know a young person aged 16 or 17, who needs support with a relationship, staying safe online or could be at risk of CSE?  To make a referral, or to find out more about our project and how we can help, please email kayjones@asphaleia.co.uk/ rubygarnham@asphaleia.co.uk or call us on 01903 522966.

  

Meet Our Young Ambassadors

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

This year we launched our Young Ambassador scheme offering young people the chance to develop their skills, gain confidence and have their voice heard within asphaleia. We were inundated with applications and appointed Young Ambassadors in Worthing and Uxbridge.

Meet Rysia  

Rysia was excited to be offered this position.  Rysia showed amazing determination and self motivation during her interview. So far in her role as Young Ambassador, Rysia has been getting involved in meeting new learners and helping them with transition to class. In the next few months Rysia will be getting more involved in social media.

Meet Lauren

Lauren was appointed this month. She is very keen to show people round in the Uxbridge Open Day on the 19th April and wants to help with fundraising for the Kabor project in Sierra Leone. Lauren hopes that by being in the role of Young Ambassador her confidence will improve even more and she will get to interact with more professionals.

We wish our Ambassadors the best of luck in their new roles and look forward to updating you on what they get up to!

asphaleia Supports CSE Awareness Day 2018

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

For the last week we have been raising awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in connection to the National CSE Awareness Day on Sunday 18th March. asphaleia very much support this campaign as we currently run three projects aimed at children, young people and parents/carers affected by CSE.

SAFE West London: Started in 2013 and currently has funding until 2019. The aim of this project is to reduce the risk of trafficking and exploitation of children and young people aged 13-19 in Hillingdon. The project is aimed to work alongside schools, colleges, children services, local authorities and all other professional organisations to provide a service helping vulnerable young people build on their self-confidence and skills, strengthening ‘safer’ social networks and accessing education or employment opportunities.

To make a referral to this project please contact 01895 272478.

SAFE West Sussex: This project started in 2016 and is being funded to deliver for five years. Its aim is to reduce the number of children and young people aged 10-24 who are victims of CSE or at risk of becoming victims of CSE. It will address the local need to ensure children and young people who are at risk of/are victims of CSE feel safe through specialist interventions, as well as building awareness and raising the profile of healthy relationships for children in year six primary school classes. One of the key outcomes of the project is that children and young people understand what a healthy relationship looks like, what CSE is, and how they are vulnerable to becoming a victim.

Part of Safe WS is working alongside the parents of children who have been identified as being at risk of CSE. We support parents in a variety of different ways including telephone communication, 1-1 meetings and the sharing of new and interesting resources. We see parents as another professional – they know so much about their children and spend so much time with them, we value their input and their opinions.

To make a referral to this project please contact 01903 823546.

SAFE Kent: Started in 2017 and is being funded to deliver for three years. Its aim is to support UASC through specialist interventions and will address the local need to ensure UASC’s are supported to tackle any gaps in understanding around citizenship, respect for women, acceptable behaviour and attitudes. One of the key outcomes of the project is that UASC have a good understanding of healthy relationships and report an improvement in understanding of how to live appropriately in the UK thus reducing risk of committing crime/anti-social behaviours in the future.

Last year SAFE Kent supported over 64 UASC via the ‘Safe and Sound’ workshops based at a hub in Kent. As a result of these interventions, all 64 young men are now at a reduced risk of exploitation and have an improved understanding of how to keep themselves and others safe in the community. So far this year, young people attending our programme of workshops reported that they found it useful learning about ‘Healthy Relationships’ in particular, a follow up session focusing on ‘Signs and Indicators’ of all types of exploitation (including CSE) will be held in the coming weeks.

To make a referral please contact 01622 690857.

Online Stranger Danger

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

It seems as though everywhere you look these days, there are stories everywhere about the dangers of children and young people talking to strangers online.  It’s hard for parents and professionals to keep up with the ever changing world of social media and with the constant addition of new apps which appear to encourage young people to talk to complete strangers.  But why do children and young people befriend, trust and follow strangers online?

Some of the most obvious reasons are:

  • Young people are curious by nature and are always on the lookout for excitement
  • Shy, lonely and socially uncomfortable children may find it easier to connect and chat online than face-to-face
  • Peer influence leads children to get interested in online networking
  • Despite being aware of cyber bullies, stalkers and groomers; children ignore these threats due to the lack of foresight and experience
  • Some children seek affection and company of online friends due to problems at home
  • Children with low self-esteem often look to online communities for acceptance
  • Teens like to connect with other teens of the same/opposite sex

What could happen if young people spend excessive time on social media platforms?

  • They will lose the desire for real life socializing
  • It will affect their ability to initiate and carry-on interpersonal communication
  • They will become less tolerant and more remote in their attitude towards people
  • They might reveal personal information to data thieves
  • They may become targets for paedophiles, groomers or cyberbullies
  • They can be exposed to inappropriate content and language
  • They can initiate or indulge in cyberbullying themselves

What can parents/carers do to help?

Clear instructions on appropriate online behaviour, cyber safety measures and monitoring are helpful to keep your young people safe. It is so important to talk to children and young people about how to stay safe and why it can be dangerous to talk to people they don’t know online.  However, this can sometimes feel like a minefield, especially if you feel your own knowledge of social media is far less than your young person’s and you may feel you need support on the best way to deal with this.  For more information and support on online safety and talking to strangers online, please contact head office on 01903 823546 and ask to speak to someone on the safe project.

        

Snow!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

It was very snowy in Kent onl a couple of weeks ago! Both staff and young people weren’t able to get to appointments and most schools and colleges were shut… But our work didn’t stop! Staff were busy working from home, going through admin, emails and of course keeping in touch with young people. Even though we were not physically there, we continued to support the young people on our projects, ensuring they didn’t feel lonely and left out.

Most young people enjoyed the snow, for most of them it was the first time they’d seen it- an exciting new experience! Some of the conversations we had are around what you can do in the snow, such as building snowmen or anything else, having snowball ‘fights’ or sledging down small slopes. We discussed differences in weather between countries such as Eritrea, Afghanistan and England, and how these countries cope with extreme weather. Talking about these differences brought back some happy memories for young people on the Palm Tree Project, it was great to hear about them. We discussed how to stay safe and warm in this weather and what’s best to wear when braving the snow blizzards outside.

Some young people enjoyed the snow outside with friends, whereas others might not live close to friends and were feeling lonely. We encouraged young people to give their friends a ring and see how they are. We also reminded young people that we were still there for them at the end of the phone and to reach out if they were feeling lonely.

Below is a picture of Palm Tree worker Gwen, with her snow princess built on her day off- show us your creations please!

The Palm Tree Project works with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children under the care of Kent Social Services, aged between 13-18 years. The project uses mentoring, art and music sessions to support better mental health and wellbeing. Contact Gwen in Maidstone on 01622 690 857 or at gwenvanstappen@asphaleia.co.uk to find out more

 

Safe West Sussex Is Now Offering Group Sessions

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Safe West Sussex was set up at the end of 2016 to address the local need to ensure that children and young people, who are at risk of, or who are victims of CSE, feel safe through specialist interventions.  Throughout the last year, the project has worked successfully with many young people and is continuing to offer support to young people on a one-to-one basis.

However, the need for group sessions has recently become more evident, and as a result, safe West Sussex has decided to offer the option of six sessions to a small group of young people (within their established peer groups), to take place in a setting such as a school environment.  These sessions would be suitable for a maximum of six young people who are at a low risk of CSE and would cover the following topics within the sessions:

  • Healthy Relationships
  • Sexting & Cyberbullying
  • Online safety and risk management
  • CSE and grooming
  • Well-being

If any of the young people who attend these group sessions are in need of more one-to-one support afterwards, then we can offer this at the end of the six week block.

If you would like further information about these group sessions or about the one-to-ones we offer then please get in touch with either Kay Jones or Ruby Garnham on 01903 522966.