A project aimed at raising awareness among young people in Banbury of human trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is starting to gather pace.
We Are One is reaching out to school students with 55 Year Nine pupils at the Warriner School in Bloxham wanting to be part of it. They have met up with social worker and project manager Bonnie Nicholls and youth worker Shannon McNally, both from The People’s Church in Horse Fair.
The pair work on a voluntary basis with The A21 Campaign, an international anti-trafficking organisation which delivers mainstream awareness and prevention to secondary school students.
Mrs Nicholls said: “This is an issue that needs addressing among our young people, particularly with the publication of the Serious Case Review on CSE in Oxfordshire and the sentencing of the group of men from Banbury last month. The heart of this work is to reach as many youths in Banbury as possible and explore how partnerships can make us more effective at equipping the young people to not only protect themselves but also have a positive voice in the community.”
In addition to their classroom project with school students, the pair are also working closely with Cherwell District Council to access funding for a social action project.
They have also made contact with other Banbury secondary schools.
Mrs McNally added: “Students who are part of the We Are One project are already busy thinking of events to help drive the project in the town centre.
Warriner School pupil Gracie Hawkins, 14, said: “We are one big group and it makes me feel important knowing that we can really make a difference between us.”
Maddie Lewis, 14, added: “It makes me feel annoyed this is going on in my community. I want to be able to stop it and raise awareness.”