Youth Participation Training Resource Launched

CSE Awareness Day: Live Learn Survive Free Youth Participation Training Resource Launched

Yesterday we launched a training resource for collective participatory working in Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) services with our cross-regional Alexi Project partners Sheffield Futures and Link to Change.

The Alexi Project was based on the ideas of Professor Jenny Pearce from the University of Bedfordshire’s International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking, and aimed to look at ways that voluntary sector expertise could contribute to supporting statutory CSE services. The hub and spoke model that grew out of this meant that the voluntary sector ‘hubs’ would expand their support, learning and expertise across geographical neighbourhoods.

Safe and Sound, Sheffield Futures and Link to Change were three of these hubs who formed a “super-hub” and jointly funded a Participation Development Worker to take on the additional strand of the Alexi Project research around the study of participation. We all shared resources and expertise and jointly developed a training resource around youth participation based on practice experience and underpinned by academic research.

Over recent years, service providers from across a wide range of support provisions, and particularly those that work with young people, have acknowledged the importance of participation amongst service users. Young people we work with are vital in letting us know what works well and what doesn’t. Projects that support the voice and influence of young people are beneficial to both the organisations that enable this and the participants themselves.

The research project team found that there were many academic articles on CSE and many on participation but none that overlapped to show how young people in CSE services had also been involved in participatory work.

To develop the resource, the Alexi Project team interviewed workers from different organisations that had established CSE youth participation groups. These groups has encountered challenges such as fear from workers that bringing together young people that had been affected could cause re-traumatisation or expose young people to potential peer-on-peer recruitment or exposure to each other’s perpetrators.

The other challenge was with young people that were still dealing with vulnerabilities as a result of what had happened to them such as post-traumatic stress, difficulty engaging with education, substance misuse or being involved in ongoing criminal investigations etc. which could affect their ability to fully engage with participatory activities. This brought up questions of criteria for inclusion or exclusion of young people on safeguarding grounds.

To address some of the challenges, the team adopted principles of a strengths-based approach and solution focussed techniques to look beyond vulnerabilities and risk to focus on the potential for what could become of each young person’s involvement in participation, rather than what they couldn’t do. This led to the development of a safety tool to prevent practitioners from assuming that they know how and at what level young people are prepared to participate.

The resource launched at an event at Nottingham Centre for Voluntary Services yesterday to around 50 delegates from around the country to find out how the free resource is intended to be used with young people in the context of participation with workshops from the three Alexi Project partners to demonstrate how the activities could be used.

Speaking at the event, Dr Isabelle Brodie from University of Bedfordshire’s International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation said she was impressed with how rigorously the Live Learn Survive resource had been researched and tested and that it would be important to ensure young people are able to decide what is purposeful for them and what they want to achieve from their involvement in participation within services and that the resource can help to facilitate this.

The resource will be free to access, so if you would like a copy please email us.



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