Meet Rob, Safer London’s Expert Development & Delivery Worker – Harmful Sexual Behaviours.
At Safer London we’re committed to providing a safe and non-judgmental environment for young Londoners who need support in addressing and managing Harmful Sexual Behaviours. We understand the complexity of these issues and firmly believe in the potential for growth and positive change.
That’s exactly what Rob is working towards in his role.
With a focus on trauma informed, person centred, and individualised support, Rob works alongside young Londoners to help them navigate challenges, develop essential skills, and work towards a future marked by healthier relationships and actions.
Rob’s work is not done in silo. This service runs parallel with the rest of Safer London, with Robin offering internal advice and support to Safer London’s Specialist Caseworkers who need guidance around the topic of Harmful Sexual Behaviours.
As much as young Londoners might learn from me, I’m always learning from them too.
What is the purpose and function of your role?
I work with young male Londoners following a referral relating to an incident/s of, or attitudes around Harmful Sexual Behaviours.
Interventions can cover a wide range of topics and are based on individual needs. For example, we might explore topics like consent and respect, online safety, healthy and unhealthy relationships, safe spaces and places, identity, intersectionality and mental health. Always working in a way that best suits an individual and being open to change if needed.
My work is delivered in a person centred, strength-based way – never in a “that’s wrong” approach, but always in a “let’s explore what’s been going on for you, for this to have taken place”. I also work in a contextual way, always looking at the “bigger picture” and trying to unpick and understand all influences.
Ultimately, my role aims to keep young Londoners safe and giving everyone the right to live in a vibrant city without the threat of violence or exploitation.
What does a ‘typical’ average workday or work week look like?
A typical week will be busy!…
Normally I will see several young Londoners in any given week, so that means planning travel across London to meet them either in school, college or somewhere safe in the community. All of which needs good diary management and good communication with the young Londoners or school staff. The one to one sessions need planning and these will be bespoke to the individual, based on needs, assessment and ability.
Capturing the young Londoner’s voice is key in terms of developing their needs but also the development of our service. So, a lot of time I will be recording good case notes, which is vital and a good reflective opportunity for me.
Depending on the situation there could be safeguarding issues or a need to attend professional meetings with other support services. This normally is an excellent opportunity to build a greater understanding of any young Londoner I’m working with.
Amongst all this, Safer London support me from a multitude of levels. Therefore, the likelihood is over the course of any given week, I will attend a combination of, peer support meetings, reflective practice, case management and supervision with my manager, support around safeguarding concerns, training and development sessions and other inhouse support.
I’ve learnt overtime, never to be surprised as to what’s next in the diary!
Why is this service so important for the young Londoners you work with?
It’s so important on numerous levels.
Safer London provides a multitude of support to a wide range of individuals, but my specific role generally means I work with young males. Often this support is the first time these young men have had a safe platform to express themselves without judgement – and time and time again, just to be heard, is often the catalyst for meaningful change.
Education is key, and despite mainstream learning, sometimes additional one to one support further enables a better positive understanding around moral and social expectations. As an adult, we are expected to know this “stuff”. As a young person, if you’ve never been told, guided, listened to, or advised, the chances of understanding “stuff” can be challenging.
Every young male I have worked with has strengths. It’s really important these strengths are given the spotlight they deserve, and once this happens it can be magical seeing confidence and self-worth grow.
What’s the hardest/most challenging thing about your role?
I get it – if my “teenage self” was told someone wants to work with me around harmful sexual behaviour, sexual exploitation and staying safe – I would probably would have run a mile!!
These can be scary topics and it can be challenging to create that initial trusting engagement with a young person. Sensitive persistence, respect, active listening without judgement and trying my very best to walk in that young person’s shoes, is key in creating a safe space.
‘Person centred’ can be a term bounded around a lot, but to actually make a meaningful connection with young Londoners, you have to try and understand things from their point of view. Normally doable, but not always easy.
What’s your favourite aspect of your role?
By far, my favourite aspect is the collaborate one to one work that the young Londoners and myself complete. It’s a real privilege to witness positive development happening within our work, and as much as young Londoners might learn from me, I’m always learning from them too. Our work often results in young Londoners ending up answering their own questions, enabling and empowering them to be the best version of themselves. Often a “lightbulb” moment for both of us when that happens.
What is your greatest achievement in relation to your role?
Cliché and all that, but my greatest achievement must be consistently seeing the positive achievements and accomplishments each young Londoner makes.
Often our work can start with a young Londoner lacking things like confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. Then chuck in an assortment of negative emotions and it can be a really difficult and challenging time for them. Seeing all that turn round, and witnessing positive growth, a better sense of worth and a brighter future is hugely rewarding and a massive personal achievement for any young Londoner.
Their achievement in creating a brighter future, is our collective achievement.
If there is one thing that you could change relating to your role, what would it be?
Time, time, time……..
Transitioning into adulthood is tough, even if all the support is there.
Sometimes, it would be great to offer longer term support to some of the young Londoners we work with. Case work often closes when specific interventions are successfully complete. That’s great – but I often think to myself – “yes, but that’s now. In a years’ time, the goal posts are going to change again”. It would be great to keep the support going throughout adolescent years.
How would you like to see this role develop?
My dream would be for all young males in London to have a safe platform to talk, and this to be deemed “normal”.
Breaking down the myths, taboos, expectations, and own vulnerabilities. It’s taken me years to recognise that some of my vulnerabilities have turned into strengths, and I would love that process to be quicker for others.
Prevention rather than intervention feels key, and I would love this role to develop into being more proactive “before an event”, rather than reacting “after”.
Anything else you would like to share 😊
Only to urge anyone who might think they know someone who could benefit from our support to reach out to Safer London.
Our team is vast and multi disciplined and in addition to support around harmful sexual behaviours, we can also offer robust support around topics such as violence, exploitation and general wellbeing.