Pioneering Gwent Missing Children Project Meets Minister
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A ground-breaking new south east Wales project has already halved the number of children who repeatedly go missing.
Young people spoke about how the Gwent Missing Children project has helped them turn their lives around when they met Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething AM at the team office in Pontypool today (Thursday 1 May).
The Gwent Missing Children project supports vulnerable young people and their families by pooling information between public services to get to the heart of each young person’s problems.
One year since launch, the National Lottery funded project has supported nearly 600 vulnerable young people and families to change their lives for the better. In its first six months the project helped 234 young people, and 128 of those have not been reported missing again.
Vaughan Gething AM saw the impact of public services working together to reduce the number of runaway incidents and to help young people regain control of their lives.
Partners in the project explained how National Lottery funding had helped them set up an innovative missing children’s hub to share information and assess risk. Every runaway child is given independent support, which could include speaking up for them, rebuilding their family, and getting support from other young people, as needed.
Deputy Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Welsh Government is determined to improve the life chances of the most vulnerable people in Wales, and I was keen to see how this project is helping young people.
“The project demonstrates how partnerships can increase impact, as set out in our Effective services for Vulnerable People strategy. National Lottery funding has played its part in improving these young people’s futures.”
Kerry Wade, Service Manager for the Project, said:
“Missing children are at great risk of physical and sexual abuse. Their lives can spiral into such dangers as alcohol, drugs, crime and exploitation, and the project is identifying them and helping protect them.
“Many of these children and young people are trying to deal with and make sense of complex situations which leave them vulnerable. Many have withdrawn from mainstream society and the services and institutions that would provide some protection. By pooling resources and really getting to know these young people we have been able to help them get back on track.
"National Lottery funding helped this happen, so we are really grateful for this significant support."
The hub is supported by Gwent Police, The Aneurin Bevan Health Board, and Social Services at the five Gwent authorities (Newport, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire).
The project received over £500,000 of National Lottery funding, which allows independent workers from Llamau to plan individual packages of care and protection, based on an understanding of the reasons people are reported as missing.
John Rose, Director, Big Lottery Fund said: “Gwent Missing Children is an ambitious project, supporting some of our most vulnerable people.
“We are pleased that Big Lottery Fund has been able to invest National Lottery funding in ways that makes a real difference. Thanks to the National Lottery, lottery players can feel proud of the investment that they are making in our young peoples’ futures.”
Gwent Missing Children is just one of many local projects using National Lottery funding to improve futures and make a big difference in their communities.
Over £71m National Lottery funding has helped over 5,000 projects work with young people in Wales in the last five years alone .
• Lottery distributors have funding programmes which focus on improving lives for young people, such as Big Lottery Fund’s Improving Futures and Building Communities programmes, and HLF’s Young Roots.
• Lottery distributors have child poverty strategies, such as Arts Council of Wales’ Child Poverty and the Arts Agenda, and Sport Wales’ Child Poverty strategy.
• The National Lottery raises £33 million every week for a wide range of sports, arts, heritage, charity and community projects across the UK
• There have been more than 420,000 individual awards across the UK
• There are an average of 135 lottery grants for every postcode district
• For further information about projects funded by the National Lottery, see http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/
Gwent Missing Children stats
• Gwent Multi-agency Missing Children received £543,202 of National Lottery funding through the Big Lottery Fund in 2013
• This funds an independent de-brief service, run by Llamau. Two full time debrief workers and a part time mediation worker plan packages of care and protection for the young people, understanding the reasons they are reported as missing
• Of the 234 risk assessments completed in the first six months, 163 children (70%) were reported missing from their home address (including living with birth family, grandparents, family friends, traveller sites, and one person ‘sofa surfing’ with family and friends)
• 18 young people (8 per cent) were reported missing from Residential Care
• 33 young people (14 per cent) were reported missing from Foster Care
• 15 young people were reported missing from 16+ homeless provision such as hostels and a safe house. One was reported from a bed and breakfast, another from supported lodgings.
• Female A, assessed as high risk due to major concerns of child sexual abuse, had been reported missing 52 times prior to meeting with the independent debrief worker. She has only been reported missing nine times since engaging with the project, a significant reduction. She now negotiates her curfew time and continues to engage well with the worker.
• Male A was reported missing and fire lighting while he was out. The debrief independent worker helped this young man engage with a preventative service offered by Gwent Fire Service.