Last week, news of Operation Shelter and the convictions of 18 people in Newcastle-upon-Tyne was made public. Since then, Changing Lives has been mentioned in the media as one of the organisations supporting victims of Operation Shelter and Operation Sanctuary. Our focus is on the brave victims of Operation Shelter, helping them come to terms with what they've experienced and look forward to a brighter future.

Changing Lives has been working in partnership with Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council for a number of years supporting victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. We have an established outreach team that has successfully connected with women (and in some cases men) who are engaged in sex work and survival sex in the North East of England.

We have supported 33 victims as part of Operation Sanctuary, 16 of those are specific to the Operation Shelter investigation.

Changing Lives Chief Executive Stephen Bell said:

“These court cases are truly heart-breaking. They show the systematic grooming and abuse of so many vulnerable girls and young women who deserve not just our sympathy but our support.

“Our charity, Changing Lives, has an established track record in helping the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and we have been part of a support network that has helped the victims of Operation Shelter and the wider Sanctuary investigation.

“We operate across a large part of the country and we do not believe that this is a Newcastle issue. Nor indeed a Rotherham or Rochdale one.

“The vulnerable are being preyed on up and down this nation and Northumbria Police are to be commended for the way they have chased up every lead while making sure the victims receive the support they deserve.

“We will support victims in any way we can, in whatever way we can, for as long as we can.

“The good news is that some of the victims are responding to the intensive support and therapy we provide so we are hopeful they will go on to lead happy and healthy lives.”

Hear more from Changing Lives and how we’ve been supporting victims of Operation Shelter by clicking the links below: