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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Outstanding Social Enterprise Award – we’ve been shortlisted!

Great news for a great team!

The North East Charity Awards are returning this year and we’re delighted to have been shortlisted for the Outstanding Social Enterprise Award.

As with many events in 2020, this event is going virtual; with the continuing restrictions and social distancing measures, unfortunately there’ll be no Gala Awards Dinner, but our whole organisation is thrilled to be shortlisted.

There will be an online, special awards event to be held across social media on Thursday 3rd December 2020 so watch this space! .

The Awards are designed to recognise the hard work and innovative thinking by local charities and individual fundraisers, increase awareness of local charities, celebrate those who work tirelessly to support the many good causes in our region, and celebrate the local businesses and individuals who help support the work.

Jo Hodgkinson, CEO of Safer Communities said: “It’s wonderful to have this good news towards the end of a particularly challenging year for everyone. The shortlisting is testimony to the incredibly hard work of all the Safer Communities staff across all of our services, they deserve this recognition.”

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SARC Teesside issues new video on sexual consent

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Teesside has released a new video to be shown in university and college buildings to help students understand the importance of consent and who is responsible.

SARC Teesside provides a 24/7 service for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault or any other sexual abuse – a service that free and is still fully available despite the challenges around Covid-19.

The SARC Teesside team, which is based at North Ormesby Health Village in Middlesbrough, would normally attend freshers’ fairs and colleges to raise awareness of the issue and the services available, but have not been able to due to restrictions this year.  

Working in partnership with creative filmmaker and Teesside University graduate, Natasha Graham, they’ve created a digital message around consent to be shown in college and university buildings and shared via social media.

Kay Davies, SARC Teesside link worker, said: “This is a really important message for us to share and since we’ve been very restricted in doing outreach this year, we wanted to create something digital to replace that.

“Most of the time when people talk about consent, they’re referring to some kind of sexual or physical activity with someone else – consent is about openly talking and agreeing on what kind of activity you want to engage in understanding when no means no.

“It’s really important for everyone, not just students of course, to feel comfortable with what’s happening; Both parties need to seek and give consent but, it is ultimately the person seeking that consent who has the responsibility to ensure it is given and understood.  We hope this video gets the message across and we urge people to share it for us.”

The organisation issues the following advice to those seeking consent:

  • If in any doubt, assume that consent has NOT been given.
  • It’s also important to check that the other person continues to consent – ask ‘Are you happy with this?’ and ‘Are you sure?’, and to stop immediately if the answer is not ‘yes’ (the absence of a ‘no’ is not the same as a ‘yes’).
  • Saying ‘If you don’t want to, that’s ok’ is also very important.

Sexual activity without consent is an offence.

SARC Teesside provide a 24/7 service for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault or other sexual abuse. This service is FULLY operational.

The service is free, you do not have to report anything to the police to receive advice and support.

SARC Teesside is about offering choices.

Specially trained staff can explain and discuss all the options. Services include:Risk and need assessment to make sure you are safe

Referrals to external agencies with the appropriate consent for specialist counselling and therapeutic supportOngoing support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)

Find out more at www.sarcteesside.co.uk

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£75,689 investment from the Youth Endowment Fund

The Youth Endowment Fund aims to build and share knowledge of the best ways to support vulnerable young people during times  of social distancing and to re-connect with young people at risk of being drawn into violent crime.

Safer Communities, in partnership Youth Focus North East, will deliver a program called Positive Pathways, which will  use experienced and nationally qualified, detached youth workers to create credible and positive relationships with young people.

Working within a specific area in Middlesbrough where young people are demonstrating  the most challenging behaviors, the program will provide a range of pop-up sport, music, social action, health and wellbeing activities for young people to get involved with.

Outcomes will take time and a key element to challenging and changing behaviours is developing a positive relationship with young people over a long period; Positive Pathways will achieve this through honest and politely challenging conversations to build the trust necessary for young people to feel confident and comfortable to participate meaningfully in the activities it  will deliver.

From more than 1000 applications, Safer Communities and Youth Focus North East were one of 130 successful applicants across England and Wales. The Youth Endowment Fund was established in 2019 with a ten-year, £200m endowment from the Home Office to find what works to prevent children and young people from being drawn into violent crime. It funds and evaluates projects across England and Wales and builds support with others to put effective approaches into practice.

Jo Hodgkinson, Safer Communities Chief Executive, said ‘We are delighted to have been selected, it’s fantastic that the importance of investing in youth services long-term has been recognised. We look forward to having our project evaluated and shaping what works to prevent serious youth violence.

Young people need hope and aspiration in their lives and this program aims to raise aspirations beyond the gang and crime culture, showing young people  there is an exciting alternative.’

Kevin Frank, Youth Focus North East Chief Executive said: “Youth Focus North East is delighted to be working collaboratively with Safer Communities on this vitally needed programme of support for some of our most at risk young people. This new investment will allow both organisations to provide a more coordinated offer of support to these young people. We are excited to get started.”

 Jon Yates, Executive Director at Youth Endowment Fund, said: “It has been too easy to forget vulnerable young people during this crisis. The pandemic has removed much of the critical support that many of them rely upon – from teachers to youth workers -this funding will help us find the best way to reach and support these young people when they most need it.”

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£400K investment to domestic abuse and sexual violence victims

Nine domestic abuse and sexual violence services impacted by the Covid-19 crisis will share a £400,000 boost secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland.

The Commissioner’s Office submitted a bid to a Ministry of Justice fund to support organisations who have felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, either through additional costs or increased demand.

Initially allocated a budget of £192,000, Cleveland’s funding was doubled to £403,000 by the Government, due to the area’s significant demand for domestic and sexual violence support agencies.

Arch North East, Eva Women’s Aid, Foundation, The Halo Project, Harbour, My Sister’s Place, NACRO and Safer Communities will all receive a financial boost to cover any additional costs until 31 October 2020.

Examples of how the funding will be used include:

  • Purchasing digital equipment and technical support to allow staff to support vulnerable people remotely;
  • Welfare supplies for vulnerable victims including groceries, household goods and mobile phones to ease isolation;
  • Additional provision or staff to deal with an increase in demand or to replace work normally carried out by volunteers;
  • Additional support for young people affected by domestic abuse, including support workers and specialist counselling;
  • Remote evidence video link to support victims in giving evidence without attending court;
  • Protecting the wellbeing of staff who have continued to work throughout the pandemic through increased supervision;
  • Cleaning supplies and PPE equipment.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger: “We’ve been incredibly lucky in Cleveland that all of our victim services have continued to provide crucial support to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis.

“I’ve been impressed by the dedication and innovation demonstrated by staff working for these agencies, who have worked additional hours and grasped new technology to provide support at a time when victims are more isolated and vulnerable than ever.

“Unfortunately some of the adjustments they’ve made have left them out of pocket. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to secure double our initial allocation by showing the Government how high the demand is for domestic abuse and sexual violence services in Cleveland.

“This investment will allow organisations to reimburse themselves for changes already made and to invest in supplies and additional services which will help them continue to deliver a high quality service in a safe way.”

Joanne Hodgkinson is Chief Executive of Safer Communities, who secured additional funding for the Teesside Sexual Assault Referral Centre said ‘Our staff have worked continually, 24/7, throughout the pandemic to ensure victims continue to receive vital support. The funding is a fantastic boost, allowing us to provide a more responsive and flexible service.’

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Safer Play Brew Fundraising Night Postponed

Safer Communities will be hosting a fundraising night alongside Play Brew in Middlesbrough. The event will be supporting a range of groups including Victims of Sexual Violence, Victims of Crime, Restorative Justice and Youth Services.

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Sexual Violence Awareness Week

February 3rd – 9th 2020, marked Sexual Violence Awareness week and the joining together of local authorities and sexual violence support services in delivering the message – “you are believed.” 

Sexual Violence Awareness week is the UK’s national week for raising awareness’s of sexual abuse and violence. Representatives from local agencies shared news about their campaigning on local radio stations. Middlesbrough showed its solidarity by lighting up the centre’s square in green.

SARC Teesside is delivered by Safe in Tees Valley based in North Ormesby (Middlesbrough), offers free confidential advice, support and medical/forensic examinations – whether or not a victim wishes to make a report to the police. SARC Teesside delivered a Q&A session to professionals, regarding how to receive and manage a disclosure of sexual violence/abuse in their job role. 

SARC joined other sexual violence support campaigns at Teesside University’s Students’ Union in hosting a stall, offering information and awareness for students. In solidarity for the campaign, students created a visual art piece. This voiced the reasons why sexual violence and abuse is unacceptable – prominently featuring the slogan used throughout the campaign, “it’s not ok.”

During the week SARC also delivered a workshop to students and professionals from the welding, electrical and engineering industry – from NETA training. This workshop shared ideas on respect and the importance of sexual consent. 

Training was delivered to North Tees Hospital’s A&E team and SARC coordinated a stall at James Cook University Hospital for any members of the public wishing to gain more information about the awareness campaign.

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Safe in Tees Valley donate to Middlesbrough’s Café for the Homeless

Safe in Tees Valley supported Middlesbrough’s Café for the Homeless, by donating sleeping bags and pop up tents in the run up to Christmas 2019. 

Established in 1996, Safe in Tees Valley are a charity dedicated to creating safer communities – supporting victims of crime and creating opportunities to change people’s lives for the better. Chief Executive Officer, Joanne Hodgkinson supported the event; distributing the tents and sleeping bags and speaking with some of the most vulnerable members of the community – dependent on the café for a nutritious hot meal. 

The homeless café, on Princes Road Newport, is coordinated by a team of up to 30 volunteers – along with support from two inmates awaiting parole from Kirklvington Grange Prison. The café supports 500 weekly clients; cooking, serving food and interacting with service users. On Friday 20th December, the café served up Christmas meals and One Voice Choir supported the event with joyous carol singing – adding to the festive and charitable season. 

Since last year, homeless deaths have risen by a record 22% and this year fatalities are estimated to be even higher. Safe in Tees Valley are proud to be helping the homeless in any way they can, hopeful that these tents and sleeping bags will make a small difference to those who struggle to keep warm and dry this winter. 

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Safe in Tees Valley’s ‘Restorative Cleveland’ win the Restorative Approaches award

Restorative Cleveland have been awarded a Howard League Community Award, under the category of Restorative Approaches, by The Howard League for Penal Reform.   Restorative Cleveland have been recognised for their success in delivering restorative practice across Cleveland and for their partnership approach to promoting the use of RJ and the right of victims’ to receive this. 

Restorative Cleveland forms part of Safe in Tees Valley; commissioned by the Cleveland Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner. Support can be accessed at various points during an individual’s journey throughout the Criminal Justice System; enabling broader opportunities to positively shape recovery, affect change and address the harm caused by crime. Referrals are welcomed from both victim and offender-initiated sources, with the focus of all work undertaken being victim-led. Co-location with the Victim Care & Advice Service (VCAS), enables Restorative Cleveland to offer a more integrated and coordinated model of victim care, safeguarding and informed offender risk-management. Liaison with local partners aims to divert individuals from the CJS, offering an alternative means of addressing offending behaviour and supporting those affected by crime.

The National RJ Charity, ‘Why Me?’ have upheld the partnership work undertaken by Restorative Cleveland with regional agencies, as being “outstanding,” as it brings together professionals to come up with creative solutions about diverting people from getting criminal records, reducing reoffending and helping victims to recover from the impact of crime. This approach considers the needs of the whole person, victim, offender, and how the community is affected, and comes up with a personalised solution in each case.

This is illustrated by work undertaken with the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner and Stagecoach, in addressing incidents of hate crime and raising awareness of available support for anyone who has been the victim of crime.  Stagecoach recently launched 80 new buses in Cleveland, all of which included coving promoting the right to safe travel, how to report any incidents of concern and available victim services.

Joanne Hodgkinson, Chief Executive Officer, Safe in Tees Valley said: “Safe in Tees Valley are proud to uphold the message, that hate crime and antisocial behaviour should, and will not, be tolerated in our communities. We believe that Cleveland should be safe and inclusive place for all members of the community, and that should extend to the right to safely access and share the supportive services available.”  

Each year, the Howard League award those services delivering good practice within the Criminal Justice System.   Restorative Cleveland are delighted to be the winners of this year’s award and will continue to dedicate their efforts into restorative justice and desistance from crime.  Becky Childs, Restorative Cleveland Service Manager, said: “We are extremely proud to have been awarded a Community Award by the Howard League. Our aim is to broaden the offer of RJ to those affected by crime, and those responsible for having perpetrated this.   RJ should be accessible to all and the ability to be creative and innovative in our delivery of restorative practice is paramount in enabling victims to have their voice heard, in the most meaningful and impactive way. This award acknowledges the good practice upheld in Cleveland in promoting and delivering RJ and we are look forward to continuing to offer a high-quality service within Cleveland.”

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National Fraud Awareness Week

November 17th – 23rd 2019 was International Fraud Awareness Week, presenting the opportunity for anti-fraud professionals to come together with the local community to take measures to protect themselves against fraud. 

Safe in Tees Valley’s support service, Victim Care & Advice (VCAS) is service designed to help those affected by crime. VCAS delivered fraud awareness sessions throughout the week across Teesside, Redcar and Hartlepool. 

Day one of fraud prevention partnered with Cleveland Police and Redcar Neighbourhood Police Team in delivering a workshop at Radio Hartlepool. The event was well attended and the four routes of fraud were explored.

Day two, VCAS partnered with the North East Cyber Crime Unit and Cleveland Police in delivering a workshop at Barclay bank. Measures to protect against cold caller and potential scammers were discussed.

Day three explored money mules and the targeting of young people. VCAS partnered with UK Finance and Cifas.

Day four was the delivery of a Friends against Scams training at Santander. Citizens Advice and Trading Standards attended the event and VCAS explored measures such as ‘take 5 to stop fraud,’ VCAS call blockers which are installed in people’s homes by VCAS and various other measures to prevent being a victim of fraud.   

Day five and the final day of fraud week was joined by Hartlepool Council, Citizens Advice Hartlepool and Cleveland Police, each with stalls for members of the public to seek advice and support.

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