New vacancies available with our Children & Families division

Our Children and Families division has two new vacancies within the pioneering Seen, Heard, Believed service, which is a cutting edge-approach to supporting children, young peopleand their families using trauma informed practice (TIP).

Youth Justice Transitions Practitioner

30 hrs

Tees Valley based

Last day to apply: 12/08/2022 Click the link for more details and to apply https://talent.sage.hr/…/86572a12-d506-4441-8236…

Family Practitioner

Full-time

Tees Valley based

Last day to apply: 12/08/2022

Click the link for more details or to apply https://talent.sage.hr/…/61b613a5-8b81-4557-9d42…

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Male rape and restorative justice

Male rape and restorative justice – why I reported the crime when so many men don’t and chose to meet with the man who raped me.

In the UK, 12,000 men aged 16-59 are raped every year – figures have risen by a third in the last decade and are, in reality, likely to be higher as many feel unable to report this crime to the police.

Chris Storey was raped by a stranger when he was a teenager and despite the significant fear and trauma he endured, he has always wanted to meet his attacker face-to-face.

He’s now waived his right to anonymity to encourage other men to report sexual assaults and to share how restorative justice has helped him to move on with his life.

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Chris, who is now 33, was 17 years old when he was raped by a man following a night out with friends. The offender – in his mid-20s – was a complete stranger who happened to be in the same city-centre taxi queue and who lured him to an alleyway, where he subjected him to a prolonged sexual assault.  

“I’d got separated from my friends at the end the night and joined a taxi queue in the centre of town,” said Chris. “It was really busy and, after engaging in conversation with this man, he said there was another rank round the corner that had a shorter queue – I knew which one he meant so I thought ‘great, I’ll get home quicker’,” he said.

“We both started walking in that direction, I remember we were just chatting and the next thing I knew I was pushed to the floor.  I heard him say ‘Don’t move or I’ll slit your throat’. 

“At that point, I thought I was going to get mugged or beaten up to be honest,” said Chris. “He kept saying over and over again, ‘don’t speak, don’t say a word or I’ll slit your throat’ and then he ordered me to take my trousers down. That’s when I realised it was something else…

“He kept threatening me over and over again to do as he wanted; I can remember my head was screaming to not comply but it’s as if my body was just going to stay and go through it, otherwise I thought I might be killed.

“It was terrifying, and it felt like an absolute eternity,” he said. “He continued threatening me throughout the attack and then, when it was over he started to panic, whilst I stood there in a terrified state.  He was pacing up and down, getting more and more panicked, repeating the same threat so much that I actually found myself apologising to him, just so I could calm the situation down and get away.

“I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone, he said he’d have me killed if I did and that was it – he walked off.”  

Chris sat in a doorway for over an hour, too scared to walk through town in case he saw the offender again. To add to his trauma, he eventually made his way back to the taxi rank where he told some people what had just happened and asked for help, only to be mocked by them.

 “It was really difficult,” he said. “I remember thinking if that’s the way complete strangers react, what will my friends and family think?

“The attack itself was sickening and the shame I felt is hard to describe. It was just instantaneous shame. He knew he’d done wrong and of course I absolutely knew he had too, but I felt like all my dignity was gone in that moment; I felt like a loser, like I wasn’t a man and that the version of me who I had just been, was now over.”  

It was a taxi driver who helped Chris, driving him to the police station where he reported the assault.  The offender denied two charges of rape and a third charge of causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent.

“It was frustrating to have to go through the trial, but despite the stress and trauma, at no point did I cry or break down during cross-examination because I knew I’d done nothing wrong. If you’ve done nothing wrong, it is possible to do that.”

The offender was found guilty by a jury’s unanimous verdict, given a full life term sentence and continued to deny his guilt for the following five years. 

Chris has always been keen to have the opportunity to meet and question the offender in person, so when he began to accept responsibility and admit what he’d done whilst in prison, Chris took the offer of restorative justice through community safety charity, Safer Communities.

Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, the charity’s restorative justice service gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the real impact of the crime.

“It’s something I always knew I wanted to pursue, said Chris. “I was angry, my family were angry, and I had lots of questions I wanted to ask him. I wanted him to know that he didn’t have the power anymore and he was going to sit there and answer every question I asked,” he said.

“To be fair, if it hadn’t been for the team who handled the restorative justice process, I think it could have ended up with me just venting, which might have made me feel better at the time but where would that have left me?

“They made sure I got my questions answered for the long-term benefit to me and they’d prepared him; he knew it was going to be difficult and, at times, he was sobbing and in such a state, he had to leave the room.  

“One of the most important things for me was when we were talking about him knocking me to the ground. He said to me ‘there was nothing you could have done, it was happening’. He told me he’d had me by the throat, I couldn’t have stopped it.  It’s what I’d known for years, but there I’d heard it from the horse’s mouth. Later, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me for the first time in years.   

“When I asked him if he thought he might have done it again if he wasn’t caught, he said he couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t have because he’d never have believed himself capable of it in the first place and look what he did to me.

“In the moments after the attack, I did consider going straight to a bridge and jumping off, but he’d have won if I’d done that. It would have destroyed my family, there would have been no justice and other men would have been at risk.

“Reporting it was absolutely the right thing to do and yes, it’s been a long journey, but restorative justice has also been the right thing for me. As much as it pains me to say it, I have to give him credit for taking part in it,” he said. “I was and am already moving on with my life, he has to live with what he did for the rest of his.”

Becky Childs – restorative justice service manager at Safer Communities – who played a key role in facilitating the process, said: “The idea of a victim of sexual violence wanting to communicate with the individual responsible may be a surprising concept to many, who may justifiably fear the risk of causing further harm or distress.

“The well-being, safety and safeguarding of victims wishing to engage in such a process must remain the focus of any restorative process, as should the victim’s right to have their voice heard, to hold the offender accountable for their actions and to have their personal needs met.

“Chris’s story demonstrates the true power of restorative justice in supporting and empowering victims to move forward, regain control and receive an apology or explanation.  This was his right, and this is the right of all victims of crime, regardless of the offence.”

In a bid to share how significant reporting the crime and meeting his offender has been for him, Chris met with Steve Turner, PCC for Cleveland: “Restorative justice programmes are often misunderstood by members of the public who think they are just easy options for people who’ve been convicted of an offence. The reality, in the vast majority of cases, is very, very different – as is the positive effect it can have for victims of crime.

“Chris’s’ experience shows just how transformative it can be for a victim. Nothing will ever erase the trauma he suffered but to hear him talk about how much the process has helped him makes me so proud of the fact that our funding can help support him and others who need it”

 “He is without doubt one of the bravest and most inspirational people I have ever come across. His desire to use his experience to help others shines through in any conversation as does the mental strength he’s shown to get to this point. He deserves enormous recognition for what he’s done so far as do the team at Safer Communities, who have supported him every step of the way.”

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Early Success For Seen Heard Believed Project

A cutting-edge project that delivers trauma-informed early interventions to vulnerable and struggling families in Middlesbrough has secured further funding following a successful 12-month pilot project.

Initially funded by the Lieutenant Colonel Cohen Charitable Trust, The Seen, Heard, Believed (SHB) Project has helped 123 family members including children, young people and their parents since it was launched in June last year (2020).

As a result, KMPG Foundations and Frontline Changing Lives have pledged their funding towards the project for potentially up to four years alongside the Cohen Trust, providing much needed help to more families across the town.

The SHB Project, which is delivered as a partnership between Safer Communities and Middlesbrough Council, provides an innovative Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) approach to vulnerable families for as long as is needed.

TIP is grounded in understanding and responding to the impact of trauma; it emphasises physical, psychological, and emotional safety for everyone, to create opportunities for those affected to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment in their own lives.

The success of the project is also due to the independent nature of the practitioners from the voluntary sector.

Learn more about Seen, Heard, Believed here:

“This is a project with a difference that’s making a real difference because it happens early on and takes into account how trauma affects the whole family,” said Lesley Makin, director of operations at Safer Communities.

“For example, if a woman has suffered trauma in her own life – maybe she’s been the victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence or suffered with addiction – or she may have endured all of those things together – that can have a hugely negative impact on her ability to parent successfully.

“This project addresses those issues early on before things spiral further and it works to help families to really understand what drives their problems, how that impacts on each other, and to feel able to tackle ‘what happened to them’ and move forward,” she said.

“The absence of time constraints that other services are often restricted by makes a huge difference also and the fact that SHB practitioners are independent of any other statutory professionals.  “This means our work is not so driven by caseload demand and they have the time and flexibility to build safe trusting relationships with the families – this is crucial to the process of enabling families to learn how to shape what they want and need, to be able to take responsibility and make changes, cope and recover.”

The project is made up of partnerships with Middlesbrough Council, including South Tees Public Health Project, ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery). The Office of Police and Crime commissioner (OPCC) has invested in the initiative further.

Figures from the Early Intervention Foundation show nearly £17 billion per year – equivalent to £287 per person – is spent in England and Wales by the state on the cost of late intervention. The cost due to domestic violence has risen, while the cost due to young people who are not in employment, education or training has fallen.

Aside from the cost to the state, late intervention has an immeasurable cost to families’ emotional, social and physical wellbeing with life-long consequences.

The SHB Project sits within Middlesbrough Borough Council’s Stronger Families, Early Help Teams but remains independent and delivers a range of longer-lasting interventions with children, young people and families referred via the Multi-Agency Children’s Hub (MACH) and Frontline Changing Lives.

Longer-term help means that whilst a case may close for intensive support, practitioners will be expected to ‘check-in’ with families to ensure the intervention remains a success and provide booster sessions if needed.

Wendy Shepherd, a trustee of the Lieutenant Colonel Cohen Charitable Trust, has long supported the idea that early intervention in a trauma informed manner is the key to successfully engaging and working with families to promote and sustain change: “I and the Cohen Trust are delighted to be working in partnership with Safer communities, KPMG and Middlesbrough Borough Council in promoting and establishing trauma informed practise as a way forward in supporting families.”


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Calls for a review of the law in support of ID theft victim

Safer Communities and our Victim Care and Advice service is supporting Claire Herron in seeking a review of the law around identity theft after she received almost £20,000 in fines to her Hartlepool address when her car number plate was cloned from an advert she’d placed online.

Safer Communities and its Victim Care and Advice (VCAS) service, which helps support victims of crime across Cleveland, Co Durham and Darlington, were contacted by Claire Herron, who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  

Claire had advertised her Mercedes for sale on Gumtree and was totally unaware the plates had been cloned until speeding fines, congestions charges and threats of arrest warrants began pouring through the letterbox.   

Incredibly, because she’d not had any money or physical property stolen, and the person who cloned the plates hadn’t obtained money using her identity, in the eyes of the law no crime had been committed, she was never considered a victim and was considered liable for the fines until she could prove otherwise.

“It was Easter Bank Holiday in 2018, I was just opening my post and there was a fine for me supposedly going through a tunnel somewhere just outside London,” said Claire.  “There was a photograph of a car that looked like mine with my plate on, except it wasn’t my car and I hadn’t been in London.

Watch Claire talking with Steve Turner, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland here.

“I contacted Transport for London straight away and was told it would get sorted out after the Bank Holiday, but it didn’t and that was just the start of a very long nightmare,” she said.

“The fines just kept coming and coming – parking charges, speeding notices and demands from nearly every borough council in London. One was from the City of London Police for driving over London Bridge at 3am, when I was at home in bed in Hartlepool with my car parked outside my house. The car was triggering cameras all over and I couldn’t’ stop it.”.

Identity fraud is not currently considered a crime – using a stolen identity in criminal activity such as obtaining goods or money by deception is. Because Claire had suffered no personal financial loss, she wasn’t considered to be a victim and technically, no crime had been committed. In fact, the councils and companies issuing the unpaid fines and charges were considered to be the victims.

Claire was passed back and forth from Cleveland Police to the Metropolitan Police to no avail – she says no solicitors would help as she hadn’t been accused or found guilty of anything. It was only through the PCC funded charity – Victim Care and Advice Service – that she managed to resolve the nightmare after almost a year.

“I wasn’t considered a criminal or a victim and this didn’t come under the usual identity theft rules – I was just innocently stuck in this automated system that keeps going and there was nothing I could do to stop it – it was incredibly stressful and shocking,” she said.

“I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown and I started to panic; this was potentially quite sinister and what if, whoever had cloned my plates, did something really serious like killed someone in a hit and run or something?

“It really started to impact my mental health badly; I reached a point where I physically couldn’t open my post anymore,” she said.

One morning, Claire received a call from her 80-year-old mother who runs a shop in their local town: “She said there were bailiffs at the shop and they wanted £1200 from me. 

“I told her it was all a mistake and to do nothing, that I was on my way. When I got to the shop these big, strapping bailiffs were there, demanding money.  They said they’d been round to my house, gone into the back garden and into my kitchen so they could tell me what type of dog I had and what I’d last had to eat. It was so intimidating and very scary,” said Claire.

“I hadn’t told my mother about it all as I knew it would cause her stress. I tried to explain and went to get all the evidence, but by the time I got back my mother had caved into the pressure and given them £1200. She just couldn’t bear it and wanted them to go away.

“We need a review of the law around ID theft so people like me can be heard and recognised as victims.”

Dave Mead of Safer Communities – VCAS said: “Claire was caught in this automated system and not being viewed as a victim meant she couldn’t be heard at all. Sadly, we’ve seen this happen to others and the level of injustice is appalling; that decent people living normal lives can suddenly find bailiffs on the doorstep pressuring thousands our pounds out of vulnerable relatives – not to mention the daily and lasting emotional stress this campaign of pressure causes.

“Legislation hasn’t kept pace with identity theft, fraud and cyber-crime and we’d like to see a root and branch review of how this works. 1000s of people are really suffering financially and emotionally.”

Eventually, through help and support from VCAS, who enlisted the help of her local MP at the time and the ANPR team, the number plate was entered into the system and the stolen car was picked up soon after.  Claire was refunded the money taken by the bailiffs.  

Steve Turner, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, who met with Claire at VCAS said:” Claire was caught in a nightmare situation, which she didn’t cause and from which she struggled to release herself.

“The fact that cloning her car’s number plate was not considered an offence and, therefore, Claire was not considered a victim, made no difference to the amount of suffering, which she and her family endured over several months.

 “It was only thanks to the patient and dedicated work of the team at Safer Communities and VCAS that Claire managed to resolve the situation. “We really need to start to consider identity fraud as a crime and look seriously at how we can prevent innocent people, like Claire and her mum, becoming victims of it.”

Claire’s MP, Jill Mortimer, was contacted and agreed to investigate the law as it currently stands to establish if a review is warranted.

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New vacancies at Safer Communities

Safer Streets Support Officer

Role Purpose: The Durham Police and Crime Commissioner was successful in securing Home Office funding to support a Safer Streets project in the Easington area of County Durham. The principal aim of the project is to reduce crime making residents safer and reducing demand on the police.

The post holder will provide comprehensive and effective administrative support to the Safer Streets project within County Durham.

Responsible to:   Victim Care and Advice Service Manager (Durham)

Location:   The post holder will be based within police premises within the project area.

Salary:  £20,895.06 pro rata

Mileage:  Will be provided at £0.45p per mile.  Insurance covering business use is required in order to claim mileage.

Hours of work:  22.5 hours per week

Closing date for all applications is 15th July. Interviews to be held 22nd July. Fixed term until 31st March 2022

For more information or to apply click here.

Substance Misuse Family Practitioner.

Responsible To: Senior Practitioner Manager– Seen Heard Believed Project

Salary Range: Career Grade Scale 7 £22,201.09

Location:   Corvette House or as directed by Safer Communities and in partnership with Middlesbrough Borough Council Early Help Teams

Hours and Terms:          37hrs Fixed Term contract One Year commencing June 2021 subject to extension if funding agreed. There will be an expectation of some evening and weekend working as dictated by the business need.

Context of the Seen Heard Believed Project (SHB)

The Seen Heard Believed Project is a partnership project between Safer Communities and Middlesbrough Council, funded by the Colonel Cohen Trust and KPMG Foundation.  The project sits within MBC’s Stronger Families, Early Help Teams but remains independent and delivers a range of interventions with children, young people and families referred via the Multi-Agency Children’s Hub (MACH).

Family Practitioners will co-work and in some instances lead on a case load of families who require early help and prevention because they are showing the early signs of vulnerability. The role is to provide a Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) approach in working with the whole family, but with particular emphasis on Substance misuse and the impact for children and young people. Families can be involved with the project for as long it is needed for them to be able to take control of their own lives. Whilst the case may close for intensive support, workers will be expected to ‘check-in’ with families to ensure the intervention remains a success and provide booster sessions if needed.

Closing date is 16th July – Interviews to be held 27th July. More more info or to apply click here.


Family Practitioner

Responsible to:   Senior Practitioner Manager– Seen Heard Believed Project

Salary Range:   Career Grade Scale 7 £22,201.09 – Scale 9 £24,812.89 Dependent upon entry level qualifications and experience.

Location:   Corvette House or as directed by Safer Communities and in partnership with Middlesbrough Borough Council Early Help Teams

Hours and Terms:   37hrs Fixed Term contract Two Years commencing June 2021 subject to extension if funding agreed. There will be an expectation of some evening and weekend working as dictated by the business need.

Context of the Seen Heard Believed Project (SHB)

The Seen Heard Believed Project is a partnership project between Safer Communities and Middlesbrough Council, funded by the Colonel Cohen Trust and KPMG Foundation.  The project sits within MBC’s Stronger Families, Early Help Teams but remains independent and delivers a range of interventions with children, young people and families referred via the Multi-Agency Children’s Hub (MACH).

Family Practitioners will co-work and in some instances lead a case load of families who require early help and prevention because they are showing the early signs of vulnerability. The role is to provide a Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) approach in working with the whole family, but with particular emphasis on children and young people. Families can be involved with the project for as long it is needed for them to be able to take control of their own lives. Whilst the case may close for intensive support, workers will be expected to ‘check-in’ with families to ensure the intervention remains a success and provide booster sessions if needed.

Closing date for all applications is 16th July – Interviews to be held 27th July.

For more info or to apply click here

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Happy 25th Birthday Safer Communities!

Happy 25th birthday Safer Communities!! 25 years ago today – April 16th 1996 – we began our quest to make communities safer.Originating from the Government Safer Cities initiative, Safer Communities (formerly Safe in Tees Valley and Safe in Teesside) has been a catalyst for change and innovation in community safety. Through our various services – Victim Care and Advice Service, Restorative Cleveland, SARC Teesside, SARC North East and our Youth Work Team, to name a few, we are honoured and dedicated to our roles to improve the lives and wellbeing of people in our community. We pride ourselves on providing high quality support, interventions and programmes that deliver significant and life changing difference for people who need our help.To celebrate this 25th year milestone, we’ve given all of our staff £25 and asked them to share how they wanted to spend it. We’ve been blown away by some of the lovely responses and we’ll be sharing these over the next week in celebration Police & Crime Commissioner for ClevelandDurham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner

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We’ve been shortlisted! Continuous Improvement to Tackling Hate Crime.

Safer Communities has been shortlisted for a Continuous Improvements to Tackling Hate Crime award with Stockton-based organisation, Hart Gables.

Hart Gables is a support service for those who identify as LGBT+ across the Tees Valley area and works to ensure that all LGBT+ people are given equal life chances and have services that meet their needs.

The term LGBT+ is intended to emphasise a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender, instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

Through our Restorative Cleveland and Victim Care and Advice services, Safer Communities strives to create safe and sustainable communities, enabling people to feel safe, build resilience and provide opportunities for people to engage in a more positive future.

Jo Hodgkinson, CEO of Safer Communities said: “It’s wonderful to have been nominated for our work around this important issue. Hate crime often goes unreported so we hope these awards will inspire confidence in our community that the very best support is available.

“This shortlisting is testimony to the incredibly hard work of all the Safer Communities staff across all of our services, they deserve this recognition. We wish everyone luck for the awards.”

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Young people invited to a big careers conversation with Tees Valley Mayoral Candidate.

Young people aged 14-24 are being invited to take part in a big conversation with Tees Valley Mayor Candidate for Labour, Jessie Joe Jacobs, about overcoming barriers to employment on Teesside.

Safer Communities and Youth Focus North East – are helping to link young people up to the virtual event, which will be held on Zoom on March 13th between 2pm and 4pm. To register, email office@youthfocusne.org.uk

Jessie is keen to give young people the opportunity to share their views on what challenges they face, and what support they feel they need to progress into employment or forward their careers.

“I am passionate about our young people, having led organisations and created employment opportunities for many of them for a number of years,” she said.  “They are our future and we must listen to them to find the solutions for tomorrow.

“The pandemic has hit our young people hard, but we have so many opportunities to explore and exploit, to ensure they get on in life. They deserve the best start and I intend to give them that.

“We are seeing youth unemployment rise across all parts of the Tees Valley and there is a clear need for a real strategy to bring this under control, provide significant intervention and offer more support, training and job opportunities.

“As Tees Valley Mayor I will lead on developing a real strategy alongside young people and employers; to boost youth employment, tackle low wages and ensure our young people have the means to get to new jobs through well connected and affordable public transport.”

Safer Communities is a community safety charity providing a range of services across the north east – including helping to provide a positive future for children and young people.

Jo Hodgkinson, CEO of Safer Communities said: “We, along with Youth Focus North East, are delighted to support Jessie in learning more about what our young people need to secure a positive future.”

Youth Focus North East is an independent charity with the overall vision to improve the lives of young people through high quality youth work. It exists for the benefit of young people and the organisations which support them.

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Meeting those who harmed you – watch Gemma’s story of Restorative Justice

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Teesside robbery victim explains why she wanted to meet one of the men responsible for her terrifying ordeal

ALMOST four years after having a knife held against her throat during a terrifying late-night robbery, a Teesside woman has spoken out about why she met with one of the men responsible for her ordeal.

Gemma Bailey, 34, was working at a petrol station on Teesside in December 2016 when she became victim to the horrifying incident, which saw two men threaten her, one with a knife against her neck, before they made off with money and alcohol.

She came face to face with James, one of the men behind the robbery, through the charity Restorative Cleveland, and is sharing her story to let other people know about the service.

Read more on this inspiring story by the Northern Echo here: https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18871236.teesside-robbery-victim-explains-wanted-meet-man-responsible-terrifying-ordeal/

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