Families with lived experience of exploitation…

It is clear to me from the work we are doing at NWG and following on from the National Key Lines of Enquiry that NWG and SPACE launched last week, there is a sense of urgency to address how we work alongside and listen to families affected by exploitation. 
We aren’t always listening to what parents and families need when it comes to their children being exploited. Why do we not always hear their evidence, their thoughts and work alongside them? Why is there often an expectation for them to ‘control’ their child and have more influence than the perpetrators and criminal networks that they are groomed by, fearful of and manipulated by?  
In July 2019 Missing People published research “All of us were broken” which explored the experiences of family members whose children have been criminally exploited. Families spoke of agencies not having a good enough awareness of criminal exploitation and found that families were not listened to and their concerns not taken seriously and that specialist support was not available to them or their children. 
One of the quotes from the Missing People research really hits home for me and makes me ask myself what if this was my child, my friend’s child or someone from my wider family. What would I want to happen?  “I was there constantly waiting for her to turn up. For the police to bring her back. Part of me dreaded if the police knocked on my door. What were they going to be knocking on my door with? Were they going to be knocking on the door telling me she was in danger? Something had happened to her? Or were they going to be telling me she is safe, we have got her back.”
In talking to families with lived experience of exploitation there is no doubt that it takes over their lives…no surprise really…how do you go to work and function on no sleep because you have been awake all night wondering where your child might be and whether they are ok? The impact is enormous.  
Creating the CPD accredited training Working Alongside Families: Experts by Experience was important to NWG and the families that shared their experiences. Maria and I would love you to come and join us on 28th January to think about how you, your service and safeguarding partnerships work alongside families. You will take practical steps away that you can use directly with families to make a real difference. 

Sarah Brown


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