22 March 2017

Tower Hamlets Together marked National Child Exploitation Awareness Day with a creative arts based workshop encouraging young people to spot the signs of abuse and speak out against it. 

The session on 14 March took place in Bethnal Green and was run by Drama Therapists from East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council and the Police. It's focus was to challenge young people’s perception of what constitutes child abuse and the different forms it may take.

The workshop, called HerLink, which is funded by Tower Hamlets Together, involves a combination of peer education, puppetry, theatre and drama therapy. The puppet show introduces the participants to the story of a young girl and her relationship with her new boyfriend. The workshop helps young people to discover the language of emotions, thoughts and feelings that may be new or challenging.

Stephen Sandford, Strategic Lead and Professional Head of Arts Therapies at ELFT said, “The show explores issues of consent, personal safety and choices in personal relationships. It aims to instil a sense of self respect, maturity and freedom to help young people respond to the pressures that many experience. We hope this approach will raise their awareness in identifying exploitation and telling somebody about it.

It is only by close working between health organisations, the council and the police in the borough that we will be able to truly challenge exploitation and stop it.”

The workshop is free and will be delivered to young people aged 13-19 years across the borough in schools, youth centres and health services in partnership with experienced Arts Practitioners from Tower Hamlets Council Arts, Parks and Events Department.

Each one-off workshop lasts for 3 hours and are designed for groups of up to 12 young people. Sessions can be offered flexibly during the day or in the early evening.

To find out more about these workshops and how it could help support the needs of young people, contact Stephen.Sandford@elft.nhs.uk or Geraldine Bone Youth & Community Arts Manager, Tower Hamlets Council Arts, Parks and Events Department who can be contacted by email: Geraldine.Bone@towerhamlets.gov.uk

National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day
National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day takes place on 18 March 18. It calls upon the world to unite against child sexual exploitation. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

The campaign aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.

Tower Hamlets Together
Tower Hamlets Together is a partnership of local health and social care organisations with an ambition to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Tower Hamlets. The organisations involved are:

Tower Hamlets Commissioning Group
Barts Health NHS Trust
East London NHS Foundation Trust
Tower Hamlets GP Care Group
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets Council of Voluntary Services
You can find out more on the partnerships website: http://towerhamletstogether.com/