Leading independent fostering agency (IFA), Fostering People, recently held an event at The Acklam Green Centre in Middlesbrough, aimed at combatting Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in the region.

Hosting guest speakers from Middlesbrough Council on the 19th November, attendees discussed promoting best practice and resources available to help victims of Child Sexual Exploitation.

The event attracted local foster carers, local authority commissioning managers, social workers and registered managers from other IFAs, all keen to learn from each other’s experiences and set out next steps for helping young people.

Jeff Watson and Ralph Jordinson, part of the risk and resilience team from Middlesbrough Council, spoke about digital resilience, practical guidance, cyber bullying and sexting as specific issues to address.

Jeff said: “Over 40% of the children at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation in the Middlesbrough area are looked after. The event was a great opportunity to link with other agencies, professionals and foster carers to share information about Middlesbrough’s Prevent Strategy, helping us to identify local children at risk.”

John Platt, managing director at Fostering People, said: “We recognised the need for an event which brought together the wider Tees Valley community to build links across fostering providers. It’s important to challenge our understanding of the issues around CSE and engage in multi-agency work to share information. This allows us to grow our knowledge and local resources, ultimately providing greater protection to vulnerable young people.”

Laura Wicks, CSE lead at Fostering People, said “We were extremely pleased with the outcome of the day. The aim was to raise awareness of CSE and the proactive, multi-agency approach in the Middlesbrough area. It was also an opportunity to share knowledge and experience and see how IFAs can support young people at risk. I believe we achieved this. Building knowledge, developing practice and sharing experiences are fundamental to the work we do at Fostering People and events like this highlight our proactive approach to safeguarding.”