A charity seeking to tackle violence against women and girls in the North East has received over £1 million from the government Credit: PIXABAY (Image: Pixabay)
A charity seeking to tackle violence against women and girls in the North East has received more than £1 million from the government.
Specialist support charity, Changing Lives (CL), has received £1.3m from the Home Office, under the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and Support for Children program (PVSC): What Works Funding (WWF).
The charity, which has helped women across Northumbria, Durham, Darlington and York who have been victims of online sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment for over 15 years, will use these funds to expand its existing services.
Laura McIntyre, head of women’s and children’s services at Changing Lives, said cases of sexual assault have risen and the organization believes it is related to the current cost of living crisis.
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She said: “Some of the women we connect with, in online spaces, have multiple unmet needs and have told us that offering ‘sex for hire’ or ‘sex for free’ to help with other survival needs is a common experience. and it is driven by poverty, hardship and the cost of living crisis.
“During Covid-19, we developed a report called Net-reach, in which we observed a worrying number of young women and girls (ages 18-25) advertising sexual services online, raising concerns about child sexual exploitation. and continued vulnerability to abuse in adulthood.
“Thanks to the funding, this project will allow our team of specialists to build relationships with women in a growing environment, where we can offer support to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
“We understand that not all women are abused online, but organizationally we see an increasing number of women accessing our services after being harmed online, traumatized and suicidal.”
The three-year funding plan will see the hiring of a service manager, a data analyst and 2.5 net outreach workers to contact women and girls online to prevent this type of abuse.
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Meanwhile, 3.5 outreach workers will provide personalized support to people affected by harm and online abuse.
The charity will work together with Social Finance, which will support data collection and analysis, to identify girls aged 16-25 who are most at risk of harm online.
Nadine Smith, Director of Government and Business at Social Finance, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Changing Lives in their expansion of the Net-reach programme.
“Our role will be to make sure we collect data in a trauma-informed way and collectively make sense of it with those across the system, especially the Home Office who are funding this vital work.
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“Having learning at the heart of this work will mean we can robustly test the effectiveness of the Changing Lives network outreach model, while also informing current and future work by government and partners to support women, inform harm education online and ensure policy, practice and funding flows move with the times.”
Adding to this, Sarah Dines, Minister for Safeguarding, said: “Tackling all forms of violence against women and girls is a government priority, so that women and girls are safe everywhere – at home , online, at work and on the streets.
“We are proud to invest more in projects that identify the most effective ways to intervene early and prevent these crimes from taking place in the first place, which will protect those most vulnerable to abuse.”