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Since 2006, St Giles has been at the forefront of helping vulnerable young people who are involved in gangs, serious violence and offending.
Our approach of using people with lived experience of the issues facing our clients has led us to become one of the leading charities in this area. The insights and expertise of our staff – all of whom have personal backgrounds which relate to these issues – makes them highly sought after to both deliver frontline work to young people and professional training to those working with them.
Insights from the frontline tell us that poverty, social inequalities and both real and perceived lack of opportunities lie behind much of the serious violence tragically taking many young lives before their time, alongside the grooming and exploitation of children and young people through county lines drug running.
We first became aware of this issue in 2010, through our existing gangs intervention work when young people would go missing for periods and sometimes later present in police custody many miles away from their home areas. After a while, some started to confide in our caseworkers and we began to uncover the full extent of the serious exploitation they were involved in.
What was also clear was a stark gap in the right kind of services to help these particularly vulnerable young people. Being so frightened and traumatised meant they would not engage with anyone other than people who had possibly shared the same or similar experiences to them – something we offered through our peer-led casework.
We were involved in the first ever Home Office funded specialist county lines intervention pilot project in Kent. Established in 2017, it helped over 80% of the young people it supported either fully exit or make progress towards exiting county lines involvement and delivered cost benefits to the police in terms of reductions in missing children episodes. An evaluation into the pilot phase can be downloaded here.
Recognising the value of this work, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner have continued to support this work after the end of the pilot phase.
Alongside this we have also developed a specific project helping children and young people in Cardiff being exploited through county lines as the city and surrounding area working with local partners to proactively address an early identified need for this type of work in the city.
We are also one of the key delivery agencies in the multi-agency Mayor of London supported Rescue and Response project helping children and young people from the capital, ensuring their safety and supporting them to resettle and rebuild their lives.
The rapid growth of county lines has led to a gap in knowledge and awareness in areas affected by it. Through SOS+. our experienced team regularly speak at events hosted by local authorities, police, education providers and others to help raise awareness of the issues, promote good practice and help professionals become equipped with the right tools and knowledge. Click here to find out more about this work.