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New scheme to tackle child sexual exploitation in Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:40 17 October 2016

Child sexual exploitation senior practitioner Nisha Devgan will lead Barnardo's project Stop It Before It Starts in Barking and Dagenham.

Child sexual exploitation senior practitioner Nisha Devgan will lead Barnardo's project Stop It Before It Starts in Barking and Dagenham.

Archant

Vulnerable children are the focus of a ground-breaking project to prevent sexual exploitation.

The Stop It Before It Starts scheme will target young people with learning disabilities and autism in the borough.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) senior practitioner Nisha Devgan has been tasked with running the Barnardo’s programme – one of three tackling child sexual exploitation that launch in London from this month.

“A lot of young people haven’t been given any sex education – if they haven’t got knowledge what sex is and how sex works it makes them more susceptible,” she explained.

“If they have additional disabilities they can be more vulnerable to exploitation.”

Half of the focus will be working directly with young people referred to the service, Nisha explained.

“It’s all very person-led,” she said.

“I wouldn’t do the same activities for every child, but we do have a broad ten to twelve session model.

“We aim to leave behind a tool-kit after those sessions, which hopefully the young person can use to identify what a healthy relationship looks like.”

The 30-year-old said the other half of her work would be educating youth organisations, parents and carers to recognise CSE and keep children safe.

“Sexual exploitation is a danger to all children and young people and those who have learning disabilities can be at greater risk of being targeted. This is about awareness-raising, and about parents and carers making sure these children safe on and offline.”

The three-year project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and will launch in Ripple Centre, Ripple Road, Barking, from 9.30am-12pm on November 8.

Enquiries and referral suggestions can be made to sbs@barnardos.org.uk.

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