Rescue and Response is a three-year MOPAC funded project supporting young Londoners affected by county lines activity.
Abianda is part of the consortium, alongside St Giles Trust and Safer London, that delivers services to 10-25 year olds.
For more information, please follow this link.
The Rescue and Response duty number – Monday to Friday 9-5 – is 020 8937 5765.
We are proud to present here a case study on one of the young women we have been working with. This case study was written by one of our Young Women’s Associates, and approved by the young woman.
The young woman was referred into Rescue and Response by her social worker, as she was thought to have been criminally exploited through county lines and to have experienced child sexual exploitation.
She had been missing for long periods of times and had been found in rural areas with an older male. Police had stopped a car she was in where drugs were found. She was placed in a secure unit on safeguarding grounds as professionals around her deemed her unable to acknowledge her risk, and that she was coercively controlled by the older male.
The Star Project – a wraparound one-to-one and advocacy service
During our work together we have met 16 times so far. Our work together has included the delivery of Abianda’s structured programme and our specialist advocacy work. So far, our sessions have explored relationships, contextual relationship mapping, gender roles and expectations of males and females in gangs/county lines, and the role and risks for girls in gangs. When I first met the young woman, she was quiet and felt vulnerable as she had little control over the decisions which were being made in her life. She agreed to engage and she explained that her best hopes from our work were: to have confidence, to say what she felt, and to communicate confidently with professionals. She also expressed she wanted to implement boundaries and keep herself safe. She stated that: “I want everyone around me to recognise that I am trying to be a better person, for me and my family.”
As a Result of our work so far, the young woman:
- has been able to voice her hopes and needs,
- has begun to lead her own advocacy
- is able to identify why boundaries will be good for her and the difference they would make in her life.
Before we began the work, she told professionals around her “I won’t change”, and believed the people she was associating with to be her friends. She now explains “these people are not my friends,” how her life has been put on hold for the benefit of others, and the negative impact it has had on her family. The young woman had poor relationships with professionals who were trying to keep her safe, and now has trusting and open relationships with all those involved in her case.
When we began our work together 16 weeks ago the young woman scaled a 4 out of 10 in regards to her best hopes, she now consistently scales 8/9 each week.
Through our work together, she has significantly increased her critical thinking. She has shown insight and awareness into her circumstances and been able to identify unhealthy relationships, risk, and harm. She has flourished as a result of Rescue and Response. She is now able to see how particular relationships have had a damaging impact on other relationships in her life. She now understands the relationship she has with her boyfriend and associates are unhealthy. She has shown courage and strength each week as she shares her expertise and views on power, risk, barriers and reasons young women may become caught up in exploitative circumstances. She explained that the reason young women get involved with gangs is that they are looking to be accepted and just want some kind of attention.
She explained to me that she was associating with harmful peers because she wanted to be listened to and understood. After two months of working together she realises that she never really had a voice in those relationships and that now she is achieving her best hopes, she has a voice and an opinion and is less gullible.
Rights based advocacy
During our work together, I worked shoulder to shoulder with her to respond to her complex needs and to ensure her voice was heard during safeguarding and statutory processes. This included:
- sharing the young woman’s concerns and hopes for upcoming care plan reviews and court proceedings;
- attending LAC and secure accommodation reviews, court proceedings and supporting her when transitioning in to a new care home
- managing expectations for the young woman and other professionals, ensuring that the young woman had clarity on proceedings and timings.
As a result of Abianda’s specialist approach to advocacy, the young woman has developed skills which means she can advocate for herself and become more independent of service support in this regard. She is now confidently sharing her views with the professional network around her and being heard by those in statutory decision-making roles. She has demonstrated assertiveness and a willingness to be a partner in her own safeguarding efforts which means the changes in her life are more likely to be sustainable.
The young woman’s voice in court proceedings
Most recently the young woman prepared a very powerful statement that she read to the judge during her court proceedings where she chose to share her views on gang affiliation.
She said: “I fully regret the stress I have put on the people around me, myself and my future. I have realised that being in a gang is not worth it, and definitely not what I deserve in life. I now know that I am worth so much more than that.”
She has displayed maturity and confidence. The judge praised her for her hard work and progress and her case has now been removed from the court team. Her guardian explained the changes she has seen in the young woman, and her ability to both express her needs and display her emotions. The young woman was very proud of herself and feels her life is moving forward.
In this young women’s case we see her journey from preparation with support and guidance, moving to independently creating documents for herself, critically thinking and creating dialogue with professionals while understanding their views.
Her future, dreams and aspirations
The young woman has completed a transition to her new residential care home. She will start at her new school soon, and I am working closely with her to make sure she has a great support network for after our work comes to an end. She is much happier and confident in herself and mostly is beginning to think about her future, dreams and aspirations. She says:
“I am not the same girl I was when I entered secure, I have honestly changed and changed for the better, I truly believe that I now have boundaries to keep myself safe. I am also still learning how to navigate myself away from negative influences, I just want to be given the chance to live a normal life with my family where I belong.”
To read more about Rescue and Response, or to make a referral, please follow this link: http://abianda.com/rescue-and-response-county-lines-activity/