Over the coming week, 14 – 20 March 2016 Project Phoenix will be holding a week of action as part of the “It’s Not Okay” campaign. The week will be devoted to raising awareness about missing young people and the links to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Find out more at www.itsnotokay.co.uk Missing children are more vulnerable to all types of exploitation – sexual exploitation, gang exploitation, violent crime or drug and alcohol misuse and research across Greater Manchester shows that 95% of young people identified as being at risk of CSE went missing on more than one occasion.
Thankfully most young people who’ve been missing return safe and well, and when they do, local authorities are responsible for making sure that someone independent offers to meet with the child to find out what led them to run away from home or care or stay out long enough to be reported missing. By providing this support we are better able to uncover any problems that led to them being missing and offer advice and support to prevent it happening again.
The week of action – How you can help
Much of the weeks campaign involves promoting our social media accounts to young people. This will help us get important messaging out to a wider audience throughout the entire year. Please share content from the ‘It’s not okay’ social media accounts to help drive followers and likes. This will help us get important messaging out to a wider audience throughout the entire year.
The social media campaign will be supported by other activity throughout the week to promote awareness including:-
- Awareness raising about risks for runaways – youth centre sessions
- Street surgeries to raise awareness with young people
- Awareness raising with schools by RUNA
- Awareness raising with takeaways and shopping centres. Distribution of door stickers with It’s not okay details
- Disruption patrols
- Bolton FM interview
- Promotional stands at BASE, Parallel, Lucas Project
If you want to know more about Bolton’s local responses to CSE please go to our dedicated CSE page
If you are working with a child who is missing encourage them to:-
- Talk through their options before deciding whether to go – they can speak confidentially to the national Runaway Helpline Call or text for free to 116000 – even if they’ve got no credit
- Make sure someone they trust knows where they are
- Avoid hitch-hiking or getting into a stranger’s car
- Try to stay in well-lit public areas
- Avoid drinking or taking drugs – this means they’re less likely to be aware of risks and can make them a target
- Take warm clothes, medications, money, mobile phone, charger and phone numbers (in case their phone is lost or has no charge)
- Call the police on 101 or 999 if they feel unsafe at any time
Anyone who is working with a child who is going missing should make sure they read Bolton’s policy and guidance which is available here