YMCA WiSE receives funding to continue helping young people affected by sexual violence

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We are delighted to announce that our YMCA WiSE project has received funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey to support children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation.

This grant from the Commissioner’s Victims’ Fund will enable YMCA WiSE to continue offering vital support for young people to cope and recover from their experiences, and to provide education and advice to guide potential victims away from harmful relationships.

The project will receive £240,000 from the Commissioner’s Office between 2022-24 that will fund two specialist workers to provide one-to-one emotional and practical support to up to 40 individuals at risk of or affected by sexual exploitation.

Working closely with other agencies, the service will help extend the age range for those accessing support in Surrey, providing independent support to individuals aged up to 25 years old.

This funding forms part of the Commissioner’s commitment to prevent harm in Surrey’s communities. This includes reducing violence against women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by sexual offences.

By committing to longer term support for YMCA WiSE in 2022, the Commissioner hopes to reduce the vulnerabilities that community services often face due to funding that is short term.

“The grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office enables this vital support for the most vulnerable young people in Surrey to continue at a time when the impact of male violence toward women and girls is being more widely recognised and better understood, investing in essential support services has never been more needed.

“YMCA WiSE works with under 26-year-olds and creates a safe, non-judgemental space where young people feel listened to and accepted, can start to understand the exploitation they have experienced, start to heal and begin to get their lives back.”

Rachael Toner, Head of YMCA DownsLink Group’s Youth Information, Advice and Counselling Services & Targeted Services

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson, who is leading the Office’s focus on children and young people, said: “We are really pleased to extend this important funding as part of our ongoing work to prevent exploitation and support the survivors of sexual violence. Protecting people from harm is an important part of our Police and Crime Plan for Surrey and tackling exploitation and sexual violence are some of the key factors to achieving that.

“Both the Commissioner and I are passionate about ensuring the safety and happiness of children and young people across our county. Whilst it is important to recognise that the vast majority of children and young people in Surrey will grow up happy and healthy, those who are affected by harmful relationships deserve the specialist support that organisations like YMCA DownsLink Group can provide.”

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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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