BACKGROUND: Youth Work
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK WITH DONNINGTON DOORSTEP?
I was attracted to this role because of Donnington Doorstep’s history, within its own community and its ability to reach out across a wide geographical area and demographic. Donnington Doorstep is well placed to support children and families. It is a trusted and well respected centre and is both innovative and holistic in its practice. It is a home from home and people feel safe, supported and respected for who they are. The communities are the creators of the solutions to the issues that they may face. The team are passionate, motivated and tenacious in their approach and there is a wide and varied skill set and knowledge base that is shared across the organisation.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES YOUR ORGANISATION IS TACKLING?
There has been a significant reduction in early intervention and early help services across Oxfordshire in the last two years. This has meant that families are not accessing universal services or support when first identified. This has placed an increased demand on community services and voluntary professional support, and the need far outstrips the capacity leaving many families without any support in times of great crisis.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
We are very proud of the work undertaken by Step Out, an ambitious and innovative project, set up in June 2011 in response to our youth service staff identifying that children in our community were being exploited. Now a well-respected, specialist voluntary sector service, we protect the rights of vulnerable children and young people and tackle Child Exploitation from a grassroots level. We provide casework, deliver a range of preventative programmes, training for professionals, specialist support for boys and young men and offer support to families affected by CSE. In 2018 we piloted our first ‘Youth Ambassador’ Programme.
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR THE COMING YEAR?
Donnington Doorstep’s main focus in the next year include:
- To further the development and delivery of opportunities for young people to engage in matters related to Child Sexual Exploitation, inclusive of, policy and service development and delivery. To ensure that they are ‘consulted’, work ‘collaboratively’ and be ‘adolescent led’
- To develop our strategic response and localised approach to working with young people and families affected by Child Drug Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation ensuring there is space and role for the youth voice
- To further grow and develop the teams’ expertise and approach to working collaboratively with young people ensuring these responses are informed by local youth opinion, expertise and voice
GIVEN THE SAMWORTH FOUNDATION’S FOCUS ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, WHAT, IN YOUR VIEW, ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES FACING YOUNG PEOPLE ACROSS THE UK?
Despite increased recognition of the issue, children and young people are still being sexually exploited. Both girls and boys across all communities and of all ages are vulnerable. Victim blaming is still all too common due to a lack of understanding of CSE and CDE/CCE and the stereotypes that persist. The ever-changing landscape and typology of Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation will continue to be a challenge for both Young People and Professionals, locally and nationally. There is an ongoing challenge for all to better understand the complexities of the issues and the contextual response that is required. There are opportunities for Young People to be better placed as part of the discourse on policy development, service design and delivery.