A new service for young people has been commissioned to support a pan-Cheshire campaign to combat child exploitation.
Young Addaction is an independent service that has been commissioned by the four local authorities in Cheshire, (Cheshire West & Chester, Halton, Warrington and Cheshire East) to provide intervention and support for young people who are at risk of child exploitation.
To mark the launch, four youngsters met with Cheshire’s lead on tackling child exploitation, David Parr Chief Executive Halton Council, Superintendent Myra Ball from Cheshire Police’s Public Protection Directorate and Mike Dixon, Chief Executive of Addaction, to learn more about the pan-Cheshire campaign, Know and See. All four of the young people have some knowledge and experience of Young Addaction and everyone gave their support to the campaign.
The ‘Know and See’ campaign has been running in Cheshire since 2013, and encourages parents and professionals to know and understand the signs of when a young person is being exploited and equip them to do something about it, whether this is have a conversation with someone or know where to go to seek help.
Child exploitation is a hidden crime and can happen in many different ways including online, where young are persuaded or forced to take part in sexual activity and where organised crime groups, exert their power to involve young people in their criminal activity.
David Parr, Chief Executive of Halton Borough Council and strategic lead on tackling child exploitation in Cheshire said: “Child exploitation is a risk to all our young people and our aim is to protect all our young people and help them protect themselves.
"With Young Addaction we are investing in a support service that will help vulnerable young people and their families to understand and tackle exploitation. "
“Young people are not always aware that they are being abused or are too scared to tell anyone. This is why it is so important that parents and professional practitioners understand the signs and know what to do and where to go to seek help.”
The campaign originally focused on child sexual exploitation; however, it has now been broadened to include both sexual and criminal exploitation in children. As such, it has relaunched with a brighter, fresher look and feel, a revamped website, and updated tools, resources and campaign materials.
Mike Dixon, CEO of Addaction said: “If you’re worried about someone in Cheshire, then there are some simple, practical steps you can take. It can be hard to know how to approach these difficult subjects or what to do. This new website is great. It gives you the information and confidence to take action."
Superintendent Ball added: "We welcome this initiative to give vulnerable young people and children the access to early intervention, empowering them to make the right choices in life and steer them away from the possibility of a life of crime".
Pictured (l to r) - Donna Wells, Young Addaction service manager, David Parr, Chief Executive Halton Council, Mike Dixon, Chief Executive of Addaction, Superintendent Myra Ball from Cheshire Police Public Protection Directorate