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Helping Ourselves Prevent Exploitation - Project Update

Written by: Keith Smith, Project Manager and Coordinator for HOPE from BILD

Hope's project coordinator, the British Institute of Learning Disability (BILD) held an annual General Meeting on Friday, 12 January 2018 at their office in Birminghan.  24 members were present and one of the presentations at the meeting was an overview of the HOPE project.

Deborah Kitson and Rachel Fyson from ACT at Nottingham University are the project’s external evaluators. They had a teleconference with the UK project team on 1 December 2017, where they discussed the project. They analysed the workshops in the East Midlands and Devon. They met the peer mentors in Southwell on 3 February and explained their role. The peer mentors were proud to show their training packs and share their experiences.

The UK project team and peer mentors have started to confirm dates later in the year for the workshops for professionals. Both mentor teams have started to plan for these sessions. The objective is to provide learning for professionals about sexual exploitation that is co-delivered by peer mentors with intellectual disabilities to improve local multi-disciplinary responses and cooperation.

The information below is drawn from the latest research to provide facts and figures. The report “Unprotected, overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are risk of, sexual experience” by Raws and Smeaton (2015) found that professionals working in child protection, lacked the specialist knowledge about intellectual disabilities and the professionals who worked in the field of intellectual disabilities, lacked the required knowledge about sexual exploitation.

The aims of the workshops for professionals are:

  1. To help professionals understand the increased vulnerability of young people with intellectual disabilities to sexual exploitation
  2. To ensure that their daily practice can encourage increased reporting and lead to increased safety for the young people
  3. To use the individual/organisational action plan to identify and develop better ways of cooperation and partnership working
  4. To identify how to support the young people to turn knowledge into changes in behaviour