Research published by the University of Bedfordshire, as part of a large-scale evaluation of the Alexi Project, an ambitious development programme that rapidly increased the capacity and coverage of charity CSE (child sexual exploitation) services across England, found that building trusting relationships is paramount.
The Alexi Project is an £8m development programme, funded by the Child Sexual Exploitation Funders’ Alliance (CSEFA) of which Barrow Cadbury Trust is a member along with the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, The Henry Smith Foundation and Lankelly Chase Foundation, amongst others.
Over the course of three years sixteen ‘hub’ CSE services are being funded to recruit and place ‘spoke’ workers into neighbouring local authority areas. The project achieved a rapid and significant expansion of services with 53 new spoke workers supporting children and young people across 35 new local authority areas.
7,199 children and young people attended group work, talks and sessions run by the spoke workers. In addition, 783 children and young people received individual support up to December 2016. This figure is Isley to be an underestimate of the total number of children who were supported during the evaluation period because of some missing data returns from services. The number will significantly increase as the project continues through to the end of 2018.
6,568 professionals were trained or attended awareness-raising sessions about CSE, including social workers, police, teachers, health professionals and other charity sector practitioners.
As well as supporting children and young people, the research found that charity sector services in this study helped to improve standards in local safeguarding practice through their direct work with children and young people, by extending the reach of training and resources, and modelling their relationship-based approach to case work.