The WISE Project is a service for 13-25 year olds who are experiencing sexual exploitation or are at risk of experiencing it. The project is also a point of call for advice and guidance for those working with young people who have suffered form sexual exploitation.
Sexual exploitation, although hidden from mainstream society, is a significant problem affecting a much larger proportion of young people than often realised. Some adults may try to draw young people into sexual relationships, offering a young person somewhere to stay, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, money, a lift or other gifts in exchange for sexual favours. This can be known as sexual exploitation and can happen to anyone of any gender, race, ability, age or sexual orientation. As sexual exploitation activities often take place behind closed doors it is very difficult to know the true extent of these happenings and victims will often shy away from talking about it to those who can help. The WISE Project has already begun the difficult process of tackling problems around sexual exploitation in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas through awareness raising workshops, group work and one to one support.
Things to look out for...
• someone gives you gifts for no reason
• you hang around with older adults or you have an older boyfriend or girlfriend
• you are offered alcohol or drugs by adults you don’t know well
• you are given money or credit for your phone by someone you don’t know well
• you get lifts in cars with people you don’t know well
• you are pressured into having sex or doing other things like watching pornography
• an adult you don’t know offers you somewhere to stay
• sometimes you run away from home
The WiSE Project also runs awareness raising workshops on how to identify key features of sexual exploitation and deciphers what can be done legally. One of the main problems with targeting sexual exploitation is that young people rarely recognize they’re being sexually exploited so it is difficult to intervene. The WiSE Project aims to help people who may have experienced sexual exploitation by supporting them in making the best decisions for themselves; this needs to start with engagement and willingness from the young person, which can be hard to negotiate. Often young people who come from a troubled background can have a distorted concept of an equal or fair relationship. The WiSE Project does one on one and group work with young people in the local community where they explore relationships and boundaries which helps to create a benchmark for a positive healthy relationship and to build self esteem.
The ‘WiSEUp’ campaign is a partnership between YMCA DownsLink Group’s WiSE Project and Sussex Police. The aim of this campaign is to encourage hospitality staff who work in the night time economy to notify the police if they spot the signs of child grooming or sexual exploitation. ‘WiSEUp’ mirrors the National Working Groups ‘Say Something if You See Something’ campaign.
‘Say Something if You See Something’ was developed to raise awareness within venues, takeaways, leisure centres, shopping centres and other premises which can be used for the purpose of grooming and/or sexual exploitation. The aim of it is to help staff to spot the signs and most importantly know how to respond. In addition WiSEUp aims to raise awareness of sexual exploitation with young people who are accessing night time economy venues and encourage them to think about how to keep themselves and others safe on a night out.
Download WiSE Project Evaluation Report
To find out more about The WiSE Project or if you are experiencing or know someone who may be experiencing sexual exploitation please get in touch.
WiSE Brighton & Hove
Phone: 07841 067 418 or 07557 855 731
Facebook: ‘WiSE Worker’
WiSE East Sussex
Phone: Hastings & Rother – 07551 126 731, Eastbourne – 07525 666 946, Lewes & Wealden – 07551 126 730
Facebook: ‘WiSE Project - East Sussex’
Phone: 07841 211 216