New STAGE Project will change lives for victims of grooming and sexual exploitation - My CMS

An innovative new partnership of six charities led by Changing Lives has launched to support women affected by sexual exploitation and grooming in the North of England.

The STAGE project brings together women’s sector charities GROWA WAY OUTTogether WomenBasis and WomenCentre (Kirklees and Calderdale) to work across the North East and Yorkshire in areas where there are emerging, live and recent sexual exploitation investigations. Earlier this year the partnership was successful in securing £1 million through the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s “Tampon Tax Fund.”

The STAGE Project will provide trauma-informed support for vulnerable women who have been groomed by groups of men for sexual exploitation in eight local areas across the North East and Yorkshire. STAGE will undertake research into survivor experiences and the impact of support, producing a toolkit to enable this approach to be replicated nationally.

The launch event took place in York and brought together staff from our women’s sector partners. Over 20 people attended from newly recruited caseworkers across the partnerships, to managers and CEOs from the different organisations.

STAGE partners, left – right: Nicola Fearnley-Hill, Claire McCardle, Alex Quinn, Laura McIntyre, Gail Walters, Debra Cowey, Ruth Fox, Elisha McIntosh, Hailey Tinson, Moya Woolven, Jane Wallace, Gary Simpson, Kathy Engler, Caroline Ramsden, Laura Seebohm, Janine Cherry-Swaine, Joanna Jones, Iram Shah.

Conversations about the delivery model and key objectives allowed colleagues to share best practice and identify potential challenges. Iram Shah from Schoen Clinic York gave a presentation on understanding trauma, which explained how consistency, boundaries and empathy are key when supporting women who have experienced trauma. An in-depth understanding of trauma underpins all Changing Lives’ services and trauma response is a core part of the STAGE model. Iram will deliver monthly clinical supervision to the STAGE caseworkers .

Laura McIntyre, Head of Women’s Services at Changing Lives, said

“The launch was a great success. There was so much energy, knowledge and passion in the room! All six organisations are excited to start delivering the STAGE model in their local areas and provide crucial support to women who have been groomed for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The project will provide one-to-one support, drop-ins and specialist group work programmes. Alongside delivering support in the community, we will also bring support into HMP New Hall and HMP Low Newton for women serving sentences who have been impacted by cases like Operation Sanctuary in Tyne and Wear and Operation Stovewood in Rotherham.”

Central to the STAGE partnership is the desire to build a strong policy partnership, combining specialist local and national voices to support this innovative piece of work. The partnership will provide longer-term support for 480 women in Bradford, Sheffield, Stockton, Leeds, Rotherham, Huddersfield and Tyneside.

Changing Lives support women with experience of sex work, survival sex and/or sexual exploitation across the North of England and the Midlands. Our services are informed by long-standing experience supporting these women, whose experiences are diverse. Read more about our specialist support for women:

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