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Trusted Relationships fund launched from Safe Steps

The Home Office have launched a new £13 million Trusted Relationships fund to help foster relationships between frontline professionals and young people at risk of sexual exploitation.

Victoria Atkins, the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, made the announcement from St Christopher’s Safe Steps, a specialist children’s home for girls at risk of exploitation.

Ms Atkins spent time looking round the home, speaking to staff and young people, and finding out what makes Safe Steps different from other children’s homes. She talked about the government’s plans for the fund, which will help youth workers, police, nurses and other professionals form close, protective relationships with children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation, county lines gang crime or relationship abuse.

Laverne, who manages the home, featured on the ITV News on Sunday, February 25, talking about the work that takes place in the service.

She said: “It can be really intense because you’re dealing with the unknown, you’re having to undo a lot of mistrust around professionals. But often what we’re realising is a lot of young people have had missed childhood experiences, such as going to the park… those little things make so much of a difference.”

One young person also spoke to ITV about how she was grateful to the home for moving her away from gang involvement and situations where she was at risk.

After speaking to the girls living at Safe Steps, Ms Atkins invited them for a tour of the House of Commons in return for their hospitality. They are excited to visit the building and discover what happens inside.

Safe Steps opened in 2015 with funding from the Department for Education Innovation Programme as an alternative to sending young people at risk to secure care homes. Best practice is centred around the principles of social pedagogy and aims to build the girls’ confidence so that they have the skills to keep themselves safe once they leave the home.

St Christopher’s Director of Operations, Phil Townsend, said: “Creating trusted relationships is at the heart of how we work with children and young people at St Christopher’s, so naturally we were delighted to be involved in launching this new initiative from our Safe Steps home. The Trusted Relationships fund will provide many opportunities for innovation and collaboration, and we look forward to seeing what projects develop in the near future.”

Watch the news feature now on the ITV website.