A social justice charity is highlighting the importance of contextual safeguarding in identifying and preventing gang exploitation

A social justice charity is highlighting the importance of contextual safeguarding in identifying and preventing gang exploitation

[Press Release]

Charity St Giles Trust is calling for expansion of early intervention work in schools to tackle county line exploitation.

Through their SOS+ Service, St Giles Trust delivers early intervention work in educational settings, such as schools, across England and Wales. These schools-based sessions include preventative sessions on violence, vulnerability, and exploitation, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

An estimated 27,000 young people are involved in County Lines according to Home Office figures1, with 4,000 teenagers in London alone caught up, according to the Children’s Society2.

The charity is highlighting the importance of contextual safeguarding, so that children and young people are empowered to make positive decisions not only at school, but on the journey home and time spent with their friends.

Contextual safeguarding has been developed by Professor Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire’s Contextual Safeguarding Network3. It recognises that young people are influenced by a whole range of environments and people outside of their family, such with peer groups and online and may encounter risk in these environments. Contextual safeguarding examines how we can best understand the risks, engage with children and young people and help to keep them safe.

Schools play a crucial role in raising awareness of county lines and helping children understand how they might be targeted by gangs. St Giles Trust collaborates closely with professionals within educational settings. to identify children at risk and intervene at an early stage.

The charity employs trained professionals with lived experience of the criminal justice system to demystify gang involvement and expose the harsh realities of crime and violence. They engage young people effectively due to their first-hand experience with these issues. In the last year, almost 100,000 young people took part in sessions and mentoring.

Jonathan Ogundeji, SOS+ Content Lead said,

“For us, contextual safeguarding is all about all parts of the community working together and having those conversations to keep young people safe. Our sessions are delivered by presenters with lived experience who can really engage fully with young people to help them in the way they need, not only in school, but on the way home to family and online.”

Sessions delivered by facilitators also tackle issues such as gang glamorisation as well as navigating the social media world safely. With half of all nine-year-old’s in the UK now owning a smartphone4, the charity is underlining the importance of early intervention work.

Presenters talk through how young people are exploited through platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram and give them the tools to choose positive pathways to stay safe.


For more information about the SOS+ service and to register interest: https://www.stgilestrust.org.uk/sos/





2: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/our-work/child-criminal-exploitation-and-county-lines

3: https://www.beds.ac.uk/sylrc/recently-completed-projects/contextual-safeguarding-programme/

4: https://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/studies/mobile-statistics/

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