YMCA WiSE - YMCA DownsLink Group

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Find out more about advice and guidance

Find out more about WiSE Services and how we can help

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YMCA WiSE is a Child Sexual Exploitation Project which works in the South East. We are based within YMCA DownsLink Group and work with children and young people up to 25 years old. Our primary focus of work is supporting young people affected by exploitation by raising awareness, educating and empowering.


What is Sexual Exploitation?

"Someone taking advantage of you sexually, for their own benefit. Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation or by telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own or other people’s enjoyment.”

The Nia Project

What does a WiSE session look like?

Typically, our sessions are casual and relaxed. Talking to young people about Child Sexual Exploitation can be an emotive and deeply personal topic. We place a large focus on making the young person feels comfortable and safe. We can have sessions in cafes, at the beach, on a walk or in a YMCA space. We focus on building a trusting and safe environment using conversation, resources and exploring different themes such as relationships, sex, consent, empowerment and wellbeing.

wise - young girl smiling

"It has helped a lot, I never opened up to professionals, but my WiSE worker helped me to open up and has taken a lot of problems off my shoulders"

What services are available at YMCA WiSE?

WiSE Sussex

In Sussex we work closely with Sussex Police and Barnardo’s on Project SOLAH (Safer Online at Home) which supports children and families with specific targeted support focusing on online safety. This is short term, brief intervention support. The is a closed referral pathway through Sussex Police.

Our CSE Practitioner-SOLAH roles are based in Sussex, and work with Sussex Police through Project SOLAH, as well as working with young people up to 25 years old who are experiencing or are at high risk of experiencing sexual exploitation. CSE Practitioners can support short term, brief interventions as well as hold a small caseload of complex longer term support cases. 

Our CSE Worker-SOLAH roles work exclusively on Project SOLAH with Sussex Police and Barnardo’s, delivering high quality, brief interventions with children and their families around online safety.

Our Male CSE Practitioner is based in Sussex, working with boys and self-identifying boys under the age of 18 years who are experiencing or are at high risk of experiencing sexual exploitation.  This can be via group work or direct support.

In Brighton and Hove we have an exciting new role of School Liaison Worker, this role will support secondary schools to better identify and address issues around harmful sexual behaviours and sexual harassment.

WiSE Surrey

We have three CSE Practitioners working across Surrey with young people up to 25 years old who are experiencing or are at high risk of experiencing sexual exploitation. In addition to this direct support, CSE Practitioners offer professional consultations to support other professionals working with young people affected by exploitation.

Our CSE Worker is based in Surrey, delivering group work interventions in schools to young people who have been identified as being at risk of exploitation. Our CSE Worker is also involved in an exciting county wide VAWG project which involves delivering specialist training packages to schools and contributing towards the creation of a county-wide campaign addressing the development of healthy relationships and harmful gender stereotyping.

Please note that engagement with the YMCA WiSE Project is voluntary; professionals cannot include YMCA WiSE as a compulsory part of a child or young person’s contract, order or conditional agreement. You must ensure that you have discussed a referral to YMCA WiSE with the child or young person and got their consent. If you require support with how to explain the WISE project to a young person or their family, please get in contact by emailing  [email protected] or [email protected] 

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Stories of those supported by YMCA WiSE

Tina's Story

Tina’s story

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

Poppy’s Story

Poppy didn’t realise she was being subjected to sexual exploitation. Spending time with a YMCA WiSE project worker opened her eyes to the reality of her situation.
YMCA DownsLink Group Dani's Story

Dani’s story

Dani's life had been chaotic and unstable. Her social worker referred her to YMCA DownsLink Group, and, with the help of her YMCA WiSE project worker, she began to make better decisions around relationships and her future.

Refer someone now

If you suspect anyone is in immediate danger, call the Police on 999. If a child or young person is currently at risk of significant harm from CSE, refer immediately to your local Children’s Services.


YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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