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Charity's Plans For New City Centre Safe Space

Published on Tuesday 14 May 2024

Derbyshire’s specialist child exploitation charity, Safe and Sound, is forging ahead with plans to create a safe place in Derby city centre for young people and families where they can engage with an expanded range of support services and activities to help them re-build their lives.


The charity has secured the purchase of 8 Bold Lane, a former restaurant in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter, which will enable the specialist team to support more young people and families and provide a broader range of services.  The charity will also make space available for other charities and organisations to deliver their services.

Safe and Sound works with children as young as seven, young people and their families across Derbyshire whose lives have been affected by child exploitation including online grooming, sexual exploitation, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation.

The charity is currently based in rented offices in Darley Abbey and rents further space for activity and therapy work.

Thanks to £250,000 funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Community Ownership Fund, plans are now being drawn up for the restoration and refurbishment work required to make the three-storey building fit for purpose. Work is due to start imminently and take around six months to complete.  

The vision is to provide safe and welcoming ground-floor space for a community hub and a wide range of activities delivered by both Safe and Sound and other youth and family-focused organisations including YMCA, Derby County Community Trust and Umbrella.

The flexibility of the space will enable activities and therapies to be expanded ranging from arts and crafts and music to drama and sport.

The other two floors will include space for 121 and group support, meetings and workshops as well as office accommodation for Safe and Sound’s team and volunteers who are based there.

Fundraising for equipment and specialist facilities will continue under the charity’s Butterfly Appeal banner with the first donations secured including the donation of office equipment from Geldards solicitors and a £4,299 grant from Toyota Manufacturing UK to pay for youth activities equipment at the centre.

Last year, Safe and Sound supported a record 343 children and young people who had been victims of or at risk of child exploitation. The charity largely works with 7-18 year olds but includes up to 25 if there are special educational needs and or disability (SEND) issues or children leaving care.

The charity works with boys and girls. Around 30% of the young people have SEND and 29% did not identify as White British. Workers also regularly support young people who identify as gay, non-binary and trans.

Safe and Sound offers a range of innovative, hands-on programmes to help young people understand what has happened to them, rebuild their confidence and move onto a place of emotional safety, protected from further harm.

Support services include:
-    121 and group support
-    Outreach work in local communities
-    Practical support for families including parents and siblings
-    Positive activities for young people 
-    Support through the criminal justice system
-     Longer-term support to transition into positive outcomes such as education and        employment
-    Specialist support for New Communities and young people with special educational needs.

Safe and Sound chair Mark Richardson, who is a director of BBJ Commercial, has been working with fellow trustees, CEO Tracy Harrison and key partners in the city to bring the vision to reality.

He explained that the purchase of 8 Bold Lane was the culmination of two years’ discussions and site visits and was a milestone moment for Safe and Sound, the wider voluntary sector and for the vibrancy of the city centre.

“We have outgrown our rented offices in Darley Abbey Mills and there has always been a desire to have city centre premises to provide a safe and welcoming space for the young people and families that our specialist team supports.

“I am delighted that we have found the premises that will be the long-term home for  everyone who works at and is supported by Safe and Sound as well as providing much needed accessible space for other organisations supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our local communities.

“The property has been vacant for some time and is in disrepair so this is an excellent opportunity to see it brought back to life.  Its location next to the Electric Daisy environmental social enterprise further brings new cultural diversity and community to the area

“I am particularly grateful for the support shown by fellow professionals in the commercial property, construction and legal fields who have recognised the value that Safe and Sound brings to our city and county and who have provided us with their expertise to enable us to secure this purchase.”

CEO Tracy Harrison outlined the importance of upscaling facilities and capacity to support young people and their families whose lives had been affected by child exploitation.

She explained that child exploitation was a rapidly growing problem:
-    Almost 34,000 online grooming crimes against children were recorded in the past six years
-    6,350 Sexual Communication with a Child offences were recorded in 2022/23
-    In 2021/22, there were 17,486 crimes logged by police in England in Wales where children had been sexually exploited – an average of 48 offences a day.

She said: “Referrals for our services have doubled since the pandemic – reflecting the reality that any child, anywhere - regardless of their age, sex or family background - is at risk of child exploitation.

“However, we have been constricted by having to rent premises not only for our team but to provide an expanding programme of activities, support and therapies which are so vital to help young people and their families affected by exploitation to move forward with their lives.

“The Bold Lane premises will be an amazing community asset that will increase our impact  by providing a centrally located safe and welcoming space for children and young people who are at risk of exploitation as well as their families.

“Our youth participation and parents as peers groups will continue to be heavily involved in the project plan – advising us on the facilities they want and we will continue to consult with our Youth Alliance partners throughout the process to ensure that this facility will benefit everyone.”

Mrs Harrison continued: “With the purchase secured, the Community Ownership Fund grant has enabled us to move quickly on the renovation of the property and we hope to be ready to open our doors in early 2025.

“We still have a long shopping list of equipment that we want to buy and special features that we want to include in the community hub so will be stepping up our efforts through the Butterfly Appeal to make this a reality.”

For more information about Safe and Sound, the work it does and how to support the charity, please visit www.safeandsoundgroup.org.uk




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