Posted: 13 March 2015

Helping to keep children safe in Lancashire

Street Safe, part of our work in Lancashire, supports children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation and those who are missing from home. Our project is supported by Comic Relief.

Jade Gardner, project worker, shares how she began a recent week at Street Safe.

Starting the day

I’m always greeted with smiles, conversation and a brew as I arrive at the office – a great start to the day. After my wake up coffee and fighting a colleague for the desk I claim as mine I check to find 32 emails from over the weekend.

As I read through the messages I learn that one of the young people I meet with went missing over the weekend. Where is she? What's happened and has she returned safe? Ahh relief, it appears she returned home late last night however her whereabouts whilst missing remain unknown.

I call her social worker and the girl’s mum, and arrange a visit to the young person this afternoon. I continue arranging my visits for the week. Face-to-face meetings are big parts of my job.

Having made all calls to arrange the visits I now have my week planned. Tuesday: Skelmersdale. Wednesday: Blackpool. Thursday: Chorley. Friday: an admin day here in Lancashire.

It’s 11.15 I don't know where half of the morning has gone

I take care of case notes from visits last week and important emails to professionals.

I sneak to the kitchen and make a quick coffee without having to make the whole office a drink. Mission complete, I'm back at my desk and make a start on some admin work.

With a few interruptions by colleagues, I finish my morning’s work, and leave, grabbing something on route to my visit the girl who went missing last night.

Talking about why a child went missing, and the dangers faced

Despite all the intervention from various professionals over the weekend, she is happy to see me and offers to make me a coffee.

After chatting about the incident over the weekend we discuss the risks associated with going missing and the potential dangers she faced.

She also tells me the name of the individual she was with when she went missing, and I tell her I will need to pass the information to the police. With my visit complete, we agree to remain in contact via text message during the week.

Back in the car I contact the specialist child sexual exploitation (CSE) team for the area of the young person and share the name of the individual for their records.  

Mid-afternoon

It’s 1:30 and I hurry to be at a school for a CSE awareness session at 2.

Arriving in the car park I see my colleague wave happily from behind her steering wheel and I park next to her. Despite the serious subject matter, it should be a fun session today with my joke telling colleague for the entertainment of the class of 32 year 10 pupils.

Late afternoon

At 3:15, the session has gone really well - especially our interactive countdown game that educates young people around CSE.

Back in the office we catch up on emails from the day, and follow up on details from my visit with the girl who ran away, including information I shared and my case notes from our visit. 

My work for the day is done at 5.15. All in all it's been an eventful day and I received a text message from the young person I saw this afternoon thanking me for going ‘round to see her.

As I say goodbye to other staff members, my personal phone rings. It's my other half calling, asking what we're having for tea. I suppose I better stop off at the grocery store on the way home...

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More must be done to fight child sexual exploitation

Posted: 10 June 2013