The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Report on year tackling sexual exploitation in Norfolk 

The Christian-based Magdalene Group charity has reported on its 23rd year of work with women affected by sexual exploitation in Norwich and Norfolk. Keith Morris reports.

Over the last 12 months, the charity has worked hard to continue to reach out and build trusted relationship with women and young people affected by sexual exploitation – work that came to the notice of the government when then Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited the project in March.

CEO Suzi Heybourne, said: “We know that relationships can transform lives so we strive to create respectful, active relationships where young people and women are empowered. We also recognise just how high the stakes are for each individual who we make contact with.
“We continue to develop services that offer positive and genuine trusted relationships encouraging both women and young people to recognise or disclose their experiences to someone that they themselves have chosen to engage with and who can help them to explore vulnerability factors and improve their resilience to exploitation.
“This year we have been working with the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse in order to build our evaluation capacity and we are also working to ensure we provide a platform for young people to share their voice about our service,” said Suzi.
The report contains details of the Group’s main projects including:

  • The Doorway Women’s Service supported and built trusted relationships with 104 women who are facing multiple and complex issues through street outreach, drop-in, befriending, prison visiting, advocacy, trafficked and online sex-worker support and a Freephone helpline.
  • The Rose Project offers specialist support services to young people at risk of, or who have experienced, child sexual exploitation in Norfolk through 1:1 support. It also provides specialist support to young people who are reported missing in Norfolk. 500 young people have been reached through 940 face-to-face sessions and 699 1:1 sessions.
  • The Jigsaw programmes aim to reach out to educate and inform young people on how to recognise the signs of sexual exploitation. It has reached 1320 children and young people through 125 workshops in schools, youth groups and care homes over the last 12 months.
  • En Route is a new supported accommodation service providing a therapeutic home for girls aged 16-18.

The Group was first set up over 20 years ago when two Christian magistrates in Norwich, Doreen Betts and Theresa Cumbers were concerned with the numbers of young women appearing before them charged with prostitution.
Read our previous story on this topic

Download and read the full annual report

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