Horse riding to tackle criminal exploitation
Helping children and young people break free of criminal exploitation isn’t an easy job. They can feel trapped in an endless cycle of drugs and crime. But we have services that are here to change that. Activities like sports, dance, arts and music can get them off the streets and back on track. Give them something to focus on. Teach them new skills so they can look to the future again.
Right now, it is estimated that 46,000 children across the UK have been groomed into criminal groups. They are forced to skip school, carry and sell drugs, stay in dirty houses far away from home.
But our support workers offer them a way out. They help young people stay active and make positive choices. They help them build confidence and find opportunities away from crime.
After a troubled upbringing, Josh and his siblings were temporarily taken into emergency care. He was just 11. Upon returning home he was targeted by men twice his age. They started giving him cannabis and forcing him to assault people and rob houses.
His support worker Anita was the only person he could turn to. She made him feel safe. She listened to him and wanted to know what made him tick. By working out what he was passionate about they were able to start planning ahead.
Josh likes animals, horses in particular. Anita started taking him riding where he was able to spend time with the horses and get to know them. It was like therapy for him.
It gives him an escape from the exploitation that confronts him back home.
Anita said ‘what we do is a lifeline for young people like Josh. We want to show him that your life doesn't have to be a constant cycle of being arrested, going into an institution, coming back out and being arrested again.’
We are the only service that has got him to a point where he’s even willing to speak to someone
I'm feeling happy. I’ve already started planning ahead I'm feeling happy. I’ve already started planning ahead
Football and the future
Robbie saw violence and alcohol abuse at home from an early age. A group at school who he thought were his friends, started to get him to carry and sell drugs to other students. He was scared. He didn’t feel like he had any other choice.
He was referred to Andy, one of our specialist practitioners. Robbie now had a safe connection to help him break free from his abusers. Through playing football together, he found something he was passionate about.
When we spoke to Robbie he told us ‘the best thing we used to do was football. I’ve noticed recently that the more sports I play, the more motivated I am to be a better person. That has become my drive. I want to be physically fit to improve my mental health.’
Now 17, Robbie has been able to transform his life. He is walking a different path, towards a brighter future.
Breaking the cycle
No young person should suffer abuse or exploitation. Our project workers stand side-by-side with young people, helping them find safety, self-belief, and confidence, so they can break free from a cycle of abuse.
Every phone call, message of support and coffee shop meet-up will help young people deal with their trauma and see that their future is theirs to own.
This Christmas, thousands of young people want to break free. Break free from being forced into crime. Break free from the life they hate.
Our project workers will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Your support will help them be there every step of the way, so young people can break free, once and for all.