Safe Choices – Leaving Care and Custody
The Safe Choices Leaving Care and Custody project was a London-based programme delivered by The Children’s Society and nia from 2012-2017 across London, and funded by the Big Lottery.
The project aimed to address sexual exploitation and violence in the context of gang association, including links to young women’s own use of violence. Young women were eligible for support from the project if they were in custody (or had been in the last three months) and/or were preparing to leave care (or had recently left care).
The project filled a gap in provision for young women over the age of 18 and for young women in custody, especially since current understandings of sexual exploitation apply only to those under 18.
Young women valued the skills of project workers for creating spaces where they felt comfortable, able to safely explore experiences of sexual exploitation, and challenged to develop new understandings.
Relational support combined with expert knowledge of sexual exploitation and violence was singled out by young women as what differentiated the project, and key workers, from other services and professionals. This enabled the building of trusting relationships.