A local partnership which aims to protect the most vulnerable young people in the borough, has resulted in Merton being shortlisted in the London Safeguarding Children Awards for tackling child exploitation.
Over the last two years, Merton has commissioned a number of agencies to help support a small number of young people in the borough at risk of being exposed and exploited as a result of domestic, drug or alcohol abuse and gang exploitation.
Together with the police, health service, Jigsaw 4U and children’s charity Barnardos, the council’s education and safeguarding support services have been able to identify and support those young people at risk of exploitation in Merton. This has resulted in a significant increase in their educational attendance and attainment, giving them the support they need to increase their self-esteem and reduce mental health issues as well as ensuring their families have access to the support services they need, to help their children.
The Merton partnership team presented to a panel of judges this week, accompanied by two young people who told their story, together with finalists Ealing, Hackney, Hounslow and Westminster councils. The winners will be announced at the London Safeguarding Children Conference on 9 December.
Councillor Maxi Martin, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “Child exploitation is a very real threat to some of the most vulnerable young people in our borough. It is through our excellent partnership arrangements that we have been able to help turn around the lives of these young people, by ensuring they’re supported and able to significantly improve their life chances.”