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Successful first year for targeted youth support service

Norfolk County Council, 10 May 2022 00:00

A service to support young people at risk of exploitation is helping improve children's lives, reduce risk, and raise aspirations.

Norfolk County Council's Targeted Youth Support Service (TYSS) has just marked its first anniversary and has successfully reduced risks for 70% of the young people it has worked with in its first year.

The £1m service supports those who are risk of criminal or sexual exploitation outside the home and its success means that it has just been shortlisted for an MJ Achievement award, in the Transforming Lives category.

Of the young people it has helped so far:

  • 34% improved their engagement with education, employment or training
  • 43% improved their participation in positive activities
  • 63% improved their use of strategies to increase personal safety
  • 69% improved their social and emotional thinking skills

The TYSS is made up of specialist youth workers, who support young people across the county, in the places and spaces where they choose to meet up.

Social workers and family support practitioners are also able to call on support from youth workers in the service if they believe young people are at risk of harm outside the home.

The TYSS also undertakes return home interviews for young people who have gone missing. A return home interview is an opportunity for a young person to explore their reasons for going missing, understand any risk or harm experienced and reduce the likelihood of further missing episodes.

It has supported young people like Ali* who was lonely and isolated and spent time talking online to older people who she didn't know. She was asked to send pictures and videos and felt she had to comply. After support from the TYSS team, Ali said: "I feel happy, confident and stronger. I feel if I was asked to send inappropriate pictures or if a stranger added me, I feel I could tell my dad, my youth worker or any teacher at school."

The service has also supported Carl, after he was arrested for selling class A drugs and carrying knifes. He was threatened and assaulted, which left him struggling with his mental health. After working with the TYSS, Carl said: 'My youth worker was good company, and we did some positive activities together. I am no longer involved with county lines, and I see my life going somewhere big."

Daniel was also helped to improve his life with TYSS support. He had been stabbed multiple times and beaten in an assault. TYSS gave him support around building peer relationships, conflict resolution, and knife awareness. He was helped to get to college to increase his attendance, supported to create a CV, and had the opportunity to talk about relationships and anything else important to him.

His risk of exploitation has reduced from high to medium and he says: "I see a future for myself. I plan to carry on at college and I've got a part time job."

The TYSS is based on building trusted relationships between young people and their youth worker. Together, they focus on the young person's strengths, skills and attributes and help them to better understand themselves, their community and the world in which they live. This supports young people to make positive changes and improves outcomes.

Cllr Daniel Elmer, Deputy Cabinet member for Children's Services at Norfolk County Council, said: "It is great to see the early success of our targeted youth support service. Young people involved in county lines or sexual exploitation are victims of crime and they need our support to keep themselves safe and to build positive relationships.

"Ali, Carl and Daniel's stories show us that there is always hope for young people who are targeted in this way and our youth workers are doing some fantastic work in raising aspirations, reducing risk and improving the life chances of some of our most vulnerable young people."

The service is now able to extend its support for young people by creating a dedicated education, engagement and employment team, thanks to investment from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The County Council has jointly received nearly £1m with Suffolk County Council to support young people affected by criminal exploitation to remain included and engaged in education training and employment, as this is a key factor in reducing risk and increasing life chances

Through a team of experienced education, training and employment professionals, the council will support, enable, and assist young people with access to education and training, promoting inclusive practice and effective provision for young people who are struggling to access education or training successfully.

The funding will also contribute to Norfolk's prevention and early help work by working with children and young people, schools, and other education settings to help raise awareness of exploitation and support children and young people to make positive life choices.

For more information about child exploitation visit Keeping children safe

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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