Improving the quality of support for young Londoners from Black and other minoritised communities, is a key priority for Safer London.

We know one size does not fit all. Every young Londoner we work alongside has a different story to tell. One that is moulded by their unique experiences and shaped by many factors – from where they grew up to their cultural identity.

For the past two years we’ve been working directly in Child Sexual Abuse Hubs across South East London, delivering our Emotional Support Service. This valuable service supports young Londoners and their families after a disclosure of sexual abuse. Our skilled team provide bespoke emotional support, as well as support them to navigate and access other services.

Over the time of running the Emotional Support Service, we’ve seen a disproportionate number of children and young people from minoritised communities. With Black African and South American young Londoners being particularly overrepresented.

We knew we wanted to understand more why this was the case, as well as make sure that the service was designed to support them in the best way possible.

We understand that there are multiple forms of systemic discrimination that affect children and young people from these communities. This can impact on the support that they receive and effect the way they engage with services. Often their experiences with services can be poor, due to working with professionals who aren’t very culturally sensitive, have a lack of understanding of intersectionality and are therefore unable to be responsive to their needs.

To explore this further and address these issues we’ve partnered with Listen Up. An organisation whose focus is on promoting the inclusion of lesser-heard voices in child protection research, policy and practice.

Over the next year we’ll be working together to improve the quality of support for young Londoners from marginalised communities. We want to build an understanding of what works for them, by listening directly to what they have to say.

We’ll be starting our journey by looking at the Emotional Support Service. The ultimate goal however, is to promote and disseminate best practice across all of Safer London’s services, as well as the wider sector.

An iterative, evidence based approach

To start, Listen Up will review data and carry out field research around those who use the Emotional Support Service. This will involve interviews, focus groups and surveys with young Londoners and families, as well as professionals including police, Sexual Assault Referral Centres and paediatricians.

Following on from this initial research, we will look at developing ways we can improve and enhance the service. Our Emotional Support Service team will test and pilot specific interventions, informed by the research findings and learning from the experiences of those we support.

After robust evaluation to see what works and what doesn’t, we will then focus on rolling out our learning across Safer London. To do this we have pulled together a group of professionals from across the organisation, who are tasked with finding best ways to implement enhanced ways of working into all our services.

Finally, the last stage will be to pull together everything we’ve learnt to produce toolkits and training. These will be disseminated to our external partners and the wider sector. We want everyone to have access to the same resources, so that all young people from minoritised communities – in London and beyond – will have access to services and support that is tailored to their specific needs.

This process will ensure that the young Londoners and families we work with – especially those whose voices are not always heard – have a voice and influence in the services that are they to support them.

This project wouldn’t be possible without support from the Home office.