Home Office awards £1.1 million to support vulnerable children in North Somerset

The Home Office has today (Wednesday 22 August) announced that more than £1.1 million has been awarded to fund a new specialist project in North Somerset aimed at supporting children and young people at risk of exploitation or abuse.

North Somerset Council successfully applied for money from the Government’s Trusted Relationship Fund to run a new project in the area over the next four years, which will intervene early to support those young people most at risk of abuse or being criminally exploited.

The project is designed to address each young person’s unique needs and will address the specific vulnerabilities of looked after or missing children and those with special educational needs and disabilities. The project also focuses on providing support to parents and carers to help strengthen protective family relationships.

Cllr Jan Barber, executive member with responsibility for children and young people’s services, said: “I’m delighted we have been successful in our bid to the government’s Trusted Relationships Fund. Over the next four years, more than £1.1m will go towards helping the most vulnerable children in North Somerset – meaning we can intervene early and support those young people who are most at risk of abuse, which will make a real difference to their lives.

“We want all children and young people in North Somerset to have someone they can talk to, and this funding provides us with an opportunity to offer vulnerable children and young people aged 10-17 in North Somerset a range of additional support. This will include work on self-esteem and healthy relationships, online counselling, and training for their foster carers and staff from all agencies in trauma informed approaches.”

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Early intervention is vitally important to give vulnerable young people the best chance in life and steer them away from destructive harms.

“I am delighted to announce that the Trusted Relationship Fund will be providing support to such a valuable project in North Somerset.”

The Trusted Relationship Fund was launched earlier this year following a review carried out by the Early Intervention Foundation. The review, commissioned by the Home Office, which found that a trusted relationship with an adult is an important part of programmes to support vulnerable children, and that the lack of trusted relationships is consistently cited as a contributing factor in cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

It found that this kind of social support can help children avoid risky situations, as well as help them overcome adverse circumstances in their lives, and that a trusted relationship can make young people significantly more likely to disclose when abuse is happening to them. The Early Intervention Foundation also emphasised the importance of testing the effectiveness of interventions with young people, which will form a key part of this Fund.

As well as North Somerset Council, other successful local authorities include Ealing Council, North Yorkshire and York Council, Rotherham Council and Hounslow Council. Barnet Council, Bradford Council, Hackney Council, Greater Manchester County Council, Northampton Borough Council and North East Lincolnshire Council were also successful.