We are hosting a series of free webinars for professionals working with vulnerable children and young people. We began the series, called ‘Support, Protect and Change’, last week where delegates heard from Councillor Sara Rowbotham.
Cllr Rowbotham spoke about how we can support and protect children at risk of gangs, CSE and high risk behaviours and help them make meaningful change in their lives.
Now Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Health & Wellbeing at Rochdale Council, Cllr Rowbotham is a former frontline NHS Sexual Health Worker, who cared for victims of the Rochdale grooming scandal, and whose evidence later led to the conviction of multiple child abusers.
Sara shared her experiences with delegates, explaining how between 2003 and 2014, she worked for the NHS Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team which was tasked with identifying young people who were vulnerable to child sex exploitation.
During her tenure, she began to suspect that girls in the area were facing systematic sexual abuse and made 181 referrals to police and social services detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people.
In 2012 she told the Rochdale inquiry that her scores of warnings that girls were being groomed and sexually exploited had been ignored. Sara’s work helped to bring about the conviction of nine men in 2012, and many more were convicted in other investigations.
While the issue of child sexual exploitation is now much better understood, and improved safeguarding procedures are in place, Sara told delegates that the importance of documentary evidence is still key. If a professional working with a young person believes they could be at risk of exploitation they should make notes of every conversation, messages, photographs or other communications which may be able to prove the conduct.
“It’s just so vital to keep detailed and dated notes, take photographs or screenshots of messages you are shown and keep persisting. If you believe a child or young person is at risk of serious harm and exploitation, the importance of any documentary evidence which backs up what they say is really vital in any future investigation and can help stop the perpetrator.”
Anna Murphy of Kedleston Group said: “Sara’s message is a powerful one. All of us involved in the care and support of young people have a responsibility to listen to them, pick up on the clues that all might not be well, and to take action where it is needed. We’re grateful to Sara for sharing her hugely valuable experiences and learning with us and our delegates.”
The next webinar in the series will be held on October 15th where delegates will hear from DI Paul Lefford will explore County Lines and Safeguarding vulnerable children and young people.
This will be followed on October 22nd by our third webinar which will feature The PDA Society.
The PDA Society is a registered charity providing information, support and training for people living and working with PDA, a profile on the autism spectrum and delegates and its Education Adviser, Jilly Davis will explore An overview of the key characteristics of the PDA profile and a range of effective strategies and approaches that support individuals with PDA.
Jilly has worked for the National Autistic Society (NAS) for over 40 years. For the last 16 years she has been teaching and supporting young people who have an autism profile of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) or a profile more indicative of PDA. Jilly is volunteer with the PDA Society.
The final webinar in the series will be held on November 5th and will feature Catch 22 which works with young people and families, providing early intervention, targeted and specialist support services to those in crisis, leaving care, missing from home or with substance misuse or mental health problems.
Places are limited. These events are aimed at supporting professionals working with vulnerable children, who will be given priority for places. Delegates can register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/online/support-protect-and-change%3A-a-webinar-series/