Keighley helpline for grooming victims makes plea for help

9:00am Thursday 31st January 2013

By David Knights

A telephone helpline is being launched in Keighley for parents whose daughters have been groomed for sex.

The ROSE advice and support service is being introduced after a year of preparation by trained social worker Caroline Henry.

She has recruited a small team of volunteers, who are all experienced in working with young women in crisis.

They will be available to families for two evenings each week, but Caroline hopes to expand the service with more volunteers. She is also seeking funding to ensure the long-term future of the project once her present funds run out.

Caroline said the team from ROSE – which stands for Risk of Sexual Exploitation – would provide both a listening ear and practical information.

She added: “ROSE recognises child sexual exploitation can cause families extreme stress and absolute frustration.

“Child sexual exploitation affects families of all backgrounds and all sections of the community, irrespective of class, race or religion.

“A lot of parents won’t ask for help because they’re ashamed or scared of the consequences. Parents are not to blame.

“It’s a very hidden crime. It is sophisticated and planned and targeted. Some girls will get out of it but an awful lot don’t.”

Caroline said although her volunteers worked in such fields as domestic violence, social work and the probation service, ROSE was not linked to any statutory organisation and the service was confidential.

She said: “The volunteers all feel strongly that they want to be part of the solution. They want to help parents and safeguard children.”

Caroline, who as an educational social worker supported many girls who were being sexually exploited, set up ROSE because she felt there was no help available to parents of victims .

She also wanted to stop sexual exploitation being a taboo subject, raising its public profile to the same level as issues like domestic violence and drug addiction.

Caroline said that once the helpline was established, ROSE would be recruiting more volunteers, who would be provided with a training pack.

ROSE received a £2,500 grant from training organisation Aspire-i’s community fund, and Caroline raised money by walking about 200 miles along the Coast to Coast route.

There has also been support from local organisations, including Confianza, Sangat, Parents Advice Centre Keighley, Domestic Violence Services and the Keighley and Ilkley Leeds United Supporters Club.

Caroline said the money had paid for phone lines and the rent of a small office. But the funds will run out within a few months, and more is needed if the service is to expand from two nights a week.

Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, divisional commander with Airedale and North Bradford Police, said the ROSE helpline was a welcome addition to existing services.

She added: “A great deal of partnership work takes place across Bradford district to tackle issues of child sexual exploitation.

“Education and support is a vital part of our efforts. By providing an opportunity to talk, we can increase awareness of the signs and quickly identify the perpetrators.”

The ROSE helpline will be available to parents and carers from February 5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm on 07860 677827 or 07860 677888. People can also make contact via the rose-keighley@mail.com e-mail address.

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