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Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

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 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.



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 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.


Year 6 Workshops – Safe West Sussex

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Did you know that the Safe project delivers workshops to year 6 children in primary schools across West Sussex?

Well… We do!

Our aim is to educate children on healthy relationships with the view to impacting their future and reducing the likelihood of them entering into unhealthy relationships and potentially risky situations. Our workshops are activity based, alongside class discussion, and we cover a range of different topics such as:

  • Identifying the many different types of relationships in our lives.
  • Considering what can be easy and difficult in relationships.
  • Discussing healthy/unhealthy scenarios in relationships.
  • Exploring what is meant by a healthy relationship and how to manage unhealthy ones including information on helpful services.

Our workshop is free of charge for all schools in West Sussex and we have been working alongside West Sussex County Council who are including our workshop in their overview of the new healthy relationship guidance for schools.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with 100% of teachers commenting that they would recommend the workshop. However we do truly listen to all of the feedback that we get, even the less positive ones, and make alterations to best reflect this to ensure that we are having the best impact possible.

We are constantly looking to adapt the way we work to meet the trends and need in society, part of that process includes gathering the above feedback from those who have accessed our support. We also share the feedback to the class teachers to enable them to plan any future PSHE sessions their class may need and to respond to any concerns that might have been raised.

If you would like some more information on the workshops or if you would like to recommend a primary school that you think would like to run our workshop then please get in touch with Ruby or Kay. Head office: 01903 522966.

Sexual violence/abuse week 2018 – 5th -11th February

Monday, February 5th, 2018

This week asphaleia is supporting sexual abuse and sexual violence week 2018, to raise awareness and generate discussion within our organisation, our partner agencies and the young people we work with.

Sexual abuse and violence occurs throughout the world and has a profound impact on physical and mental health, with serious (short and long-term) consequences for victims and their families.

  • 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused (NSPCC, 2017).
  • Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.
  • Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year.
  • 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 (MoJ, 2013).

How do you define child sexual abuse? (NSPCC, 2018)

There are two different types of child sexual abuse. These are called contact abuse and non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. It includes:

  • sexual touching of any part of the body whether the child’s wearing clothes or not
  • rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child’s mouth, vagina or anus
  • forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity
  • making a child take their clothes off, touch someone else’s genitals or masturbate.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as groomingexploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing. It includes:

  • encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
  • not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
  • meeting a child following sexual grooming with the intent of abusing them
  • online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images
  • allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images
  • showing pornography to a child
  • sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child exploitation).

All forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence are totally unacceptable, please join us and add your voice to thousands of people across the UK saying #itsnotok.

Find out more:

Look out for more updates on our social media during the campaign week.

Are you a professional working with young people and you want to know more about signs and indicators of sexual abuse or how to seek further support for a young person?  Please contact a member of our SAFE team, based in Worthing, London and Kent-

National Story Telling Week- 29th January to 2nd February

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

This week asphaleia will be joining in the 18th year of National Story telling week, which was founded and delivered by the Society of Storytelling. The Society For Storytelling continually promotes the oral tradition of storytelling, the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination.

Oral storytelling is one of the most ancient art forms and continues to this day as a vibrant part of culture throughout the world. They are seen to be an effective educational tool and act as a foundation for learning and teaching.

During this week, asphaleia will be giving young people the opportunity to tell their stories, be it a true story, creative or even poetry. There will be a competition held to encourage all our young people to take part and be able to share their stories of the journey they are/ have been on in life.

Keep an eye on our social media for day-to-day storytelling activities.

For more information on the services that asphaleia offer please call head office on 01903 823546.

What is Human Trafficking?

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Human trafficking involves recruitment, harbouring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion and forcing them to work against their will. Individuals can be trafficked for many different forms of exploitation including labour and sexual. Both adults and children can find themselves as victims. However, when children are trafficked, no violence or coercion needs to be involved. Simply bringing them into exploitative conditions constitutes trafficking.

People often confuse human trafficking and people smuggling. People smuggling is the illegal movement of people across international borders for a fee. On arrival, the smuggled person is free. Human trafficking is different. The trafficker is moving a person for exploitation. There is no need to cross an international border. Human trafficking occurs at a national level, or even within one community.


Reports have shown that;

  • 51% of identified victims of trafficking are women, 28% children and 21% men
  • 72% people exploited in the sex industry are women
  • 63% of identified traffickers were men and 37% women
  • 43% of victims are trafficked domestically within national borders

Estimates by The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC))

The number of people being referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK’s official framework for identifying victims of human trafficking -has risen steadily in recent years. Almost 1,400 victims, including cases of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, were identified last year.

Are you a professional working with young people? Do you want to know more about signs and indicators of trafficking or exploitation? Please contact a member of our SAFE team, based in Worthing, London and Kent-