Tina found the support she received from YMCA WiSE invaluable following a difficult period in her life when she had been groomed by two older men.

At 17 Tina* and a friend had been befriended by two much older men, invited to parties and given alcohol. Following an incident Tina was referred to the YMCA WiSE service that supports children and young people at risk of, or subject to sexual exploitation. It was recognised that Tina was very vulnerable, and had already been subjected to grooming at an earlier age.

The YMCA WiSE worker was able to give Tina a good deal of helpful information around healthy relationships, recognising grooming, growing self-esteem and assertiveness and the issue of consent. They met every week, and Tina appreciated being in a safe place where they could discuss anything that was on her mind. They carried on meeting for about six months, and during that time Tina’s self confidence grew significantly. Role play sessions helped her to grow in assertiveness. She even shared her discomfort about the family’s lodger who was behaving inappropriately, and he was asked to leave the family home.

They were able to address other issues too, such as Tina having had no money of her own. As the family income was low, the YMCA WiSE worker supported Tina and her Mum to claim a Personal Independence Payment, which enabled Tina to buy herself some clothes and materials for her college course.

At the end of her time with YMCA WiSE Tina was very positive about the value of having someone she could talk to confidentially about private issues that she couldn’t share with her family or friends. She started volunteering in a charity shop, completed a first year at college and plans to go on to a second year. With a new understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like, she started a relationship with a boyfriend her own age.

With support from her YMCA WiSE worker Tina grew significantly over the course of six months, and is now well on the way to building a more positive future for herself.

Read more about YMCA WiSE here.

*Name and photo changed to protect the identity of the young person