Local Solutions has secured funding from Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership to support young people at risk of Child Criminal Exploitation, including County Lines activity. The INK (Improve, Nurture, Know) project will operate out of the Young Person’s Hub and support young people aged 16-24 from across Merseyside.
Young people who have poor support networks, insecure accommodation or who are leaving care are at particular risk to being exploited by criminal gangs and in particular County Lines activity. County Lines gangs transport illegal drugs from one area to another and often coerce children or vulnerable people to do this. During the Covid-19 lockdown, County Lines activity and the numbers of young people who were exploited increased significantly.
97 Active County Lines operate from Merseyside, with with Merseyside’s drug gangs the second biggest exploiters of young people after London (Guardian, 2020)
The INK Project will offer a tailored programme of support that aims to increase awareness around Child Criminal Exploitation; boosts protective factors in the young person’s life; builds the young person’s resilience and provides opportunities for personal development. Young people will be able to access the specialist health, substance misuse and employability services that regularly attend the Hub and benefit from enrichment activities at the Hub.
‘There are so many pressures around for young people, even more so throughout this unprecedented period, and we know that those in the least secure situations are exposed to the most risk. The INK project, through the skilled work of our mentors, and the commitment of the violence reduction partners, is working to build on young people’s strengths, build those protective factors and to provide a positive guiding presence to enable young people to avoid criminal activity and exploitation, and to enable them to make positive choices and fulfil their potential’
Tom Harrison, Director of Programmes and Innovation
The INK project is part of the ‘Eyes Open’ campaign which is raising awareness of the signs of Child Criminal Exploitation which include young people going missing from home or school, behaving more secretively, changes to emotional wellbeing and young people suddenly having new phones, bikes, clothes or money.
To find out more about the support on offer and how to make a referral, click here.