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New support service for sexually abused children

01 March 2017

​A ground-breaking therapeutic service for children who have been sexually abused will be launched in Jersey by the NSPCC.

Working in partnership with Children’s Service in the States of Jersey, the children’s charity will begin delivering a specially designed programme in Spring 2017.

“Letting the Future In” focuses on creative therapies such as painting, drawing and storytelling, giving children an opportunity to talk about their experiences and to express themselves creatively. Delivered by social work professionals, individual sessions enable children to work through past events and understand and move on from what has happened.

The landmark partnership between the NSPCC and the States of Jersey will enable the service to be delivered in the island for the first time. Investment funding in new health and social care services which was agreed by the States Assembly in 2012 (P82/2012) from Health and Social Services (£50,000 a year for three years) and the money will fund a social worker post for the specialist role.

Ongoing fundraising for the NSPCC in Jersey will continue to be a vital element in order to maintain the Gower Centre, in Stopford Road, where the programme will be based, and to help meet other associated costs and services.

The launch of the new service has been welcomed by Ministers, States departments and partner agencies.

Recruitment of a suitably qualified social worker to the post is now underway with interviews scheduled for early March, and subject to recruitment, and it is hoped that the service will be operating by May.

“Letting the Future In” is a programme created by the NSPCC and is already in use in a number of locations across the UK. It is available to children aged four to 17. Parents and carers are also offered support to move on from the impact of finding out about the sexual abuse and to help their children feel safe.

Child sexual abuse can be perpetrated by relatives, other trusted adults or strangers and child sexual abuse can happen both online and offline. Last year Childline received more than 10,000 calls and online contacts from children and young people across the UK and Channel Islands who had been forced to take part in sexual activity.

Child sexual abuse can affect victims in a number of different ways throughout childhood and life as an adult. Effects include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, problematic sexual behaviour and, in some cases, suicide.

Letting the Future In has been independently evaluated by the University of Bristol and Durham University in the largest ever randomised controlled trial of a service for children affected by sexual abuse.

It found that children who completed the programme, and their carers, talked about:

  • improved mood
  • better confidence
  • reduction in guilt and self-blame
  • reduced depression, anxiety and anger
  • improved sleep patterns
  • better understanding of appropriate sexual behaviour

It also concluded that almost three-quarters (73%) of children aged eight and over who completed six months of Letting the Future In had severe emotional difficulties at the start. After six months this dropped to less than half (46%).

The NSPCC’s partnership with the States of Jersey follows the recent conclusion of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which investigated the abuse of children in Jersey's care system over many years. Its final report is expected to make a number of recommendations later this year.

Senator Andrew Green, Minister for Health and Social Services said: “My colleagues in the Council of Ministers and beyond all warmly welcome the start of this essential programme in Jersey. No child should have to suffer sexual abuse, any other kind of abuse, or the devastating consequences it can have, both on the child and their family. The distress is overwhelming, and we have a duty to do all we can to help those who have survived child sexual abuse.

“A programme such as this can only help children in Jersey. The hard work that professionals do in any agency with vulnerable children is some of the most valuable we do. I am determined, as are my colleagues, that we do all we can to ensure that child sexual abuse does not occur. But when it sadly does, there is help available. It is particularly pertinent for me that as we await the findings from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, that this service will be available. I’d like to thank everyone involved in bringing this essential programme to fruition.”

Head of the NSPCC’s Service Centre in Jersey, Jacky Moon, said: “We are delighted to be working with the States of Jersey on the introduction of this innovative service. ‘Letting the Future In’ delivers specially designed therapeutic support for four to 17 year olds who have experienced sexual abuse. By taking part in creative activities and play, children and young people can safely work through past experiences and receive the help they need to rebuild their lives.

“Sexual abuse can have devastating effects that last long into adulthood. Our programme gives children and their parents or carers a chance to express themselves, understand and move on from what has happened.”

NSPCC Jersey Team Manager Selina Winter added: “The final report from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry is expected to make a number of recommendations in coming weeks. Where we can, NSPCC Jersey will work with the States to ensure they are met and that are improvements are made.”

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