Recovered proceeds of crime money keeping teenagers safe (29 Jun 2015)

Students at Manor Croft Academy, Dewsbury have been learning how to keep safe from grooming and sexual exploitation, thanks to funding from West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The Year 9 and 10 students have been taking part in a 6 week programme called Respect Me Too run by Huddersfield social enterprise Freedom Personal Safety. The funding was awarded from the PCC's Safer Communities Fund which uses the proceeds of crime to support local safety initiatives.

IMG_1351Freedom Personal Safety were awarded over £5000 to run 4 programmes across Kirklees at 3 high schools and a pupil referral unit.  Students have been learning about healthy relationships, abuse, grooming, sexting and child sexual exploitation. As part of the programme the students create their own projects which they  present to other students at the school to raise awareness of these issues. The students performed a powerful dance about grooming, an original Spoken Word on consent, a thought-provoking poster on hidden abuse in teenage relationships and a handy help and support guide.  

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson presented certificates to the students and commented "It is important for young people to be able to learn how to better protect themselves. The Respect Me Too programme provides the skills, knowledge, confidence and awareness of how sexual exploitation and grooming take place and how they can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. I am pleased that the Safer Communities Funding, which is provided using money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, is being used to help educate young people and to make them safer and feel safer."

Freedom Personal Safety have a track record in this field, running awareness and prevention programmes in primary and high schools as well as youth settings across West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. Director, Julie Tweedale said 'this funding has enabled us to reach hundreds of young people across Kirklees and share vital messages about grooming and exploitation. What works really well is the students taking ownership of the issues and educating their peers.'

Manor Croft Academy is one of 3 Kirklees schools to benefit from the programme, principal Hayley Clacy said "We were delighted to be chosen to take part in this project because it deals with the most important topic of all; keeping young people safe.  It is vital that our young people grow up having the ability to recognise negative relationships and the confidence not to accept them. I was extremely proud today, not only of the young people delivering this very difficult message  but also the students who listened well and it is another example of how the Academy is moving forward".

For more information about the Safer Communities Fund is available at www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/safer-communities-fund.aspx  

To read about the work of Freedom Personal Safety, go to www.freedompersonalsafety.co.uk 

FPS
Mark Burns-Williamson (back, middle) with Yr9 and 10 students at Manor Croft Academy, Joanne Simpson, Kirklees Safeguarding Board (back, right) Julie Tweedale, (back, left) and Cheryl Hey (front, right) of Freedom Personal Safety
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