The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norwich abuse charity sees huge increase in demand 


A Norwich-based Christian charity which tackles sexual exploitation across Norfolk has seen “a huge increase in demand for its services over the past year”. Keith Morris reports.

The revelation came in the latest annual report of the Magdalene Group, based in King’s Street, which was set up more than 20 years ago through the vision of two Norwich Christian magistrates.
CEO Suzi Heybourne said: “I am so proud that for over 20 years the Magdalene Group has unfailingly provided love and care to people experiencing sexual exploitation.
“This year has seen a huge increase in demand for our services. The Rose Project had worked with over 203 young people and the Doorway Project has worked with over 104 women, however the numbers will never do justice to the often harrowing and heart-breaking stories of sexual exploitation underlying them.”
The report also pays tribute to co-founder of the Group, ex-Norwich magistrate Doreen Green, who died in March. The Group was born in 1992 from the vision she shared with fellow magistrate Doreen Betts after they had to deal frequently in court with young women brought before them charged with being “common prostitutes” and so breaking the law. They were moved by the women who had no support, little education and only knew of relationships which abused and used them.
The work of the Group has since grown from strength to strength and has become the foremost provider of services for women and young people who experience sexual exploitation in Norfolk.
Detective Superintendent Julie Wvendth of Norfolk Police paid tribute to the Group’s work: “The Magdalene Group’s awareness and involvement in the sex working agenda within the county is an added bonus in respect of their work in child sexual exploitation. We have a strong relationship with the team and I think that a lot of the progress made in the county of the issue and our response to sex workers is attributable to their experiences in the field.”
The report goes on to outline the Group’s three main projects:

  • Doorway Women’s Services: provides a drop=-in service for sex workers where women share a hot meal and a rare sense of belonging, a street outreach service and other support to exit the sex industry if they choose.
  • Rose Project: supporting young people through school support, befriending, therapeutic support, safeguarding and a live chat helpline.
  • Jigsaw programmes: a range of accredited education programmes working towards the prevention of child sexual exploitation and ensuring young people recognise and understand how to stay safe.



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