Young people from our participation group are shortlisted for NWG Unsung Heroes Award
We’re delighted to announce that a group of young people from our youth participation group SUSO (Stand Up Stand Out) have been shortlisted for an NWG Network Unsung Hero Award in the Inspiring Voices category.
In 2013, the young people (aged 14-16) came up with the idea of producing a film to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation to prevent other young people from becoming victims.
Drawing on their knowledge and experience, the young people met with a filmmaker to discuss their ideas. He helped them to develop a script, storyboard and a shot list. After this, volunteer actors were recruited, and filming began.
The film features two fictional young people who are sexually exploited. The first, Ben, is pressured into taking naked pictures of himself that are posted online. The second, Megan, is groomed by peers, persuaded to take drugs and alcohol, and forced into sexual activity with adult men.
‘Cruel Kindness’, written, directed and edited by SUSO, was launched in Derby in December 2014 to a room of child protection professionals from across the country where the young filmmakers spoke about their experience.
The project is fulfilling the group’s objectives; the resource is now being provided to local safeguarding children boards, schools and colleges across the country to raise awareness of CSE amongst other young people.
In their own words (an excerpt from the speech SUSO made at the film launch):
“We made the film as we wanted to help young people understand what may be happening to them and also help to protect others from ever becoming victims. Speaking from experience we found it important.
“I was never lucky enough to be educated on CSE before I became a victim. By the time I knew, the damage had already been done.
“As the four of us worked together we realised that we needed to stress to young people and professionals that boys can be exploited as well as girls. It was also important to clear the misconception that it is always middle aged men that take advantage of young people and that it always happens face to face. Sexting is also just as common.
“We researched into CSE films already created and assessed the relevance, accuracy and important elements we felt they missed out. We then linked our ideas together along with personal experiences and set out writing it.
“Once we had a script we started searching for a cameraman and actors; we were very grateful to those who were able to support us. We filmed many of the scenes at Derby Uni who were kind enough to let us use their facilities.
“The editing process was long and hard but we eventually managed to produce a final product we were proud of.
“We hope this film helps to educate young people about CSE and helps professionals to be able to support young people.
“All we ask for is that our film can help save at least one person from becoming a victim and we want those who sadly have already been exploited to know they are not alone; that there’s help and support and they will not be judged.”
A spokesperson for NWG said: “The nominations reflect a huge amount of work, dedication and going ‘above and beyond’, right across the UK. As the name of the awards suggest they are our unsung heroes, and we are proud to play a part in ‘singing’ their praises.”
The winners of the Unsung Heroes Awards will be announced at the NWG Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Getting it right…? Annual Conference on 18th March so we’d like to wish the young film-makers the best of luck!
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