By Chloe Purcell, Director of SAFE!
Last year SAFE! – Support for Young People Affected by Crime – came second in the Criminal Justice Alliance Awards as Organisation of the Year. We won £2,000.
The year leading up to winning our Award had seen us grow significantly, extending our services for young victims beyond Oxfordshire and into Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes and increasing our staff team from two to nine.
Life has not settled down in any way since winning. As awareness of our services has grown across the region we’ve seen our referrals increase by over 100 per cent. In a year we’ve provided one-to-one support to 520 young people aged from eight to 18 who’ve been harmed by crime, with the majority affected by sexual violence or domestic abuse.
Unfortunately, we’ve also found a steep increase in referrals for support as statutory sector services have been shrinking around us. This continues to pose a challenge simply due to our capacity as an organisation. In response, we’ve been forging collaborative working practices with other third sector and statutory agencies to better pool our knowledge and resources in order better to meet the needs of young people across the region.
As well as services for young victims of crime, SAFE! Also now runs a Building Respectful Families programme which seeks to address Child to Parent Violence. This involves innovative group work, based on the Break4Change model, using peer support, creativity and a restorative film dialogue to try to increase communication and change behaviours within families. Thanks to funding from Children in Need we’ve run two programmes in Oxfordshire in the past year. We’ve now also been funded by the Troubled Families Innovation Fund to set up a new programme in Reading starting soon.
The year ahead looks interesting for SAFE! We anticipate an even greater increase in demand for our services for young people and families across the region combined with the need to find new and sustainable sources of income.
Winning a CJA Award was a fantastic boost as it was a recognition of the distance we’d travelled and all the hard work that had taken place. Our trophy has had pride of place in our office ever since.