On National CSE Awareness Day, I reflect on the children and young people who need our help and who we support during incredibly traumatic times. For them, understandably, trust is paramount. They need to feel trust with our online team; our staff need time to build relationships with vulnerable people who may find any degree of trust painfully difficult.

Allowing young people the freedom to get help on their terms, anonymously, is therefore important. Keeping the door open beyond traditional working hours is essential in offering them space and flexibility. It’s about young people feeling heard, accepted, understood – and empowered.

Exploitation is not only about sexual exploitation, but includes criminal exploitation, modern slavery, trafficking and vulnerability. For our teams, supporting someone with these issues singly or in combination with other mental health issues can be difficult, but incredibly rewarding. We provide mandatory training for our teams so that we can offer young people a trauma-informed practice approach. We continue to offer a consistent holding space for young people and adults, to be able to access support and be heard, supported and safeguarded.

We hear daily from young people who may be at risk or in abusive situations. The power of anonymity is something which young people value, as they do not have access to this in any other aspect of their life.

To feel in some control is invaluable to them in an out-of-control situation. Continued work with agencies, our intelligence sharing protocols and with safeguarding procedures in place, we ensure autonomy, choice and control for people who have maybe never felt this in their lives.

We know that perpetrators target vulnerability and not age. To be able to offer preventative support and help for those people experiencing abuse is vital. To be a part of their process of support is a privilege. It is paramount we continue to listen to the voice of the people we support and see and be with them beyond behaviours.

Anne-Marie Yates

Learning and Development Lead within the clinical team, XenZone


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