School children from across the West Midlands will mark the beginning of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness week on Monday at a pioneering conference aiming to build resilience in the fight against CSE.
One of the first of its kind, the CSE conference at Birmingham’s Lighthouse Youth Centre in Aston will bring together teenagers from Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. They will take part in workshops throughout the day to discuss how CSE happens, how to deal with it, and how to develop a campaign that will really connect with other teenagers. As well as shaping future campaign work they will become ambassadors equipped to inform, educate and build resilience in their local areas through their youth groups, schools and friends.
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for Children and Family Services, Cllr Brigid Jones, said: “Children and young people who have been sexually exploited and abused tell us that if they had had more awareness of grooming and child sexual exploitation they could have recognised what was happening to them far earlier. This conference is another tool that will help us to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation amongst teenagers across the West Midlands. It will support the development of our campaign and the young people taking part will take back clear messages to their schools and local communities.”
Local school girl Sherika Silcott will chair the conference. The sixteen year old, who is already one of Birmingham’s Police Youth and Crime Commissioners and regularly attends events at the Lighthouse, is passionate about making a difference to her community. She will be joined by Birmingham actress Cherrelle Skeete, who will address the conference. Cherrelle appeared in BBC1’s ‘Call the Midwife’ earlier this year and is about to appear in the BBC1 drama ‘Ordinary Lies’. She is keen to work with young people to raise awareness of this important issue.
The conference has been organised by Birmingham City Council in partnership with West Midlands Police. It is being facilitated by Cherished, a community group which offers mentoring, support and guidance for girls, and Up-Rising, a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation.
For further information about the campaign see http://www.seeme-hearme.org.uk/
For more media information and to arrange interviews contact Press and PR Officer Debbie Harrison on 0121 303 4476
Notes to editors
CSE Conference details – Monday 16 March, 9.30am – 3.30pm at The Lighthouse, Newtown, Birmingham, B19 2LN
The following are available for interview at the conference, best times 10.30 – 11am & 12.30 – 1pm:
Local actress and activist Cherrelle Skeete
Local school girl and chair of the conference Sherika
Stephen Rimmer – West Midlands Strategic Lead for Child Sexual Exploitation