The SOS project in Kensington + Chelsea provides one to one and group work for those assessed as at risk of criminal exploitation including county lines involvement, violent offending and knife crime
The SOS Project
The support provided by the K+C Foundation dating back to December 2010 has enabled us to continuously support some of our most vulnerable, needy young people, helping them to move into more positive lifestyles
Dave Evans, Partnership Manager, St. Giles
It started with Charlene being assaulted in Westfield Shopping Centre because she had allegedly disclosed information to a gang member that a friend was associating with boys in rival gangs. During the assault Charlene was hit and kicked by that friend and thrown to the ground. Charlene had visible bruises and red marks on her upper left arm..
Charlene had recently moved to London and had been caught trying to smuggle mobile phones into a prison for her boyfriend. She was not charged but cautioned and banned from the prison. The full extent of Charlene’s lifestyle was not clear – but local affiliations included Grove Gang/1011. She also had associations with gangs in Lambeth and Hackney. She was referred to and assessed by the SOS team where it was discovered that Charlene had an open case Social Services in Wales, where she had been at risk of exploitation and grooming, hence why she had come to London. However, since arriving she had again been groomed to take part in county lines drug trafficking by gang members.
The assessment found that she was still at risk of grooming, had a lack of positive male role models, as well as learning difficulties. It was also clear that she needed support around a range of issues including violence, exploitation and grooming, independent living skills and mental health. There was a lot to do to help Charlene turn her life around.
An appointment was made for her to attend Lambeth College to complete a course in functional skills but she didn’t turn up. She was hesitant to go due to anxiety around the amount of people and the prospect of being laughed at in lessons. SOS arranged for her support worker fto go with her and intervened with the college to explain that she would need extra support. The SOS project also ensured that a female worker would have a session with Charlene around female empowerment, exploitation and grooming.
Charlene is now in full time college studying functional skills. She has built up more self-esteem and is able to address and cope with her anger issues. Working in partnership across and between agencies, coordinated by the SOS project, demonstrates that even the most damaged of individuals can have a really positive outcome.