The Safe Choices programme works with young women who experience a number of risk factors in relation to gang culture. These risks include sexual violence, sexual exploitation, gang association and involvement in violent crime. The programme is therefore designed to support young women in relation to the sexual violence to which they are at risk, alongside reducing and preventing their violent offending.
The project was originally funded by a grant from the Department for Education's Youth Sector Development Fund and was one of the few projects to focus specifically on young women. The original Safe Choices pilot project was a partnership between nia and The Children's Society, focusing on young women involved in gangs or gang-related activity. The project worked with young women who had been referred by local agencies such as schools, pupil referral units, youth offending teams and children's social care teams.
Safe Choices works on complex, difficult and sensitive issues with young women who are often alienated from other services and who may not trust adults easily. The young women are frequently exposed to multiple risk factors that can lead to poor life chances and leave them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in relationships with young men, as well as involvement in criminal activity. We offer young women experiential group work programmes and intensive one-to-one support that focuses on developing resilience and positive support networks alongside challenging patterns of offending behaviour to enable young women to develop healthy and safe relationships.
The Children Society and nia are currently delivering a Safe Choices programme to support young women leaving care and youth offenders' institutes. This project, funded by the Big Lottery: Youth in Focus, will work in six London boroughs per year over a period of five years (2012-2016).
nia has also been awarded funding to deliver Safe Choices work in two North/East London boroughs under the Big Lottery: Reaching Communities programme for three year (2012-2015). The Safe Choices programme also offers:
- Training: including multi-agency awareness-raising, skills training and bespoke courses
- Groupwork programmes for delivery in schools or young people's services
- Safe Choices Training for Practitioners: to increase the skills of professionals to reduce and prevent violent offending by young women.
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