Merton secures funding to protect vulnerable young women and girls

The Council has been successful in its bid for Home Office funding for a specific young women’s worker for the next three years. They will provide support to vulnerable young women and girls who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, gang-related exploitation or abuse. 

The worker will provided by St Giles Trust, an organisation that has worked with thousands of vulnerable people over many decades, helping them to overcome all manners of limitations through support, advice and training. 

St Giles’ SOS+ Service will provide gender-specific, trauma-informed 1:1 mentoring support to young women and girls in Merton at risk of, on the periphery of, or entrenched within child criminal exploitation, gangs, county lines, and/or child sexual exploitation (CSE).  

The will be embedded into educational settings, enabling them to identify young women and girls displaying risk indicators that may make them more likely to become involved in youth violence and exploitation.  

Staff in schools will also be trained to increase the awareness and understanding of violence against women and girls. This will be situated within the wider context of risk factors such as unhealthy relationships, the overlap between child criminal exploitation and CSE, and girls in gangs. 

Merton was one of 23 local authorities to receive funding from the Home Office as part of national effort to steer at-risk young people away from violence. 

Cllr Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “I’m delighted we have received this funding and would like to thank all the members of the council who put together the bid for this invaluable addition to our work around protecting young women and girls. 

“The impact of gang-related harm on young women and girls is enormous and should not be underestimated, and it can affect those afflicted throughout their whole lives if not addressed early on.  

“This fund will allow affected people to have access to expert support to will protect those vulnerable to exploitation as well as those who are already victims of the actions of these criminal gangs.”