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Leeds charity gets cash boost to stop sexual exploitation in community

Young women from Getaway Girls at the She Matters Conference in 2016 celebrating International Women’s Day

By Kelly Woodward

A CHARITY that helps young women at risk of sexual exploitation in Leeds has received a grant from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Getaway Girls based in Harehills, has been running for 28 years helping young girls and has been a local hub for girls to come and build their confidence.

It has just received £4,480 through the Safer Communities Fund set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.

With the funding, Getaway Girls is introducing a new project called Safer Spaces which links with its existing project Safe Spaces.

The team at the charity will be going into the community to help vulnerable girls and to gain their trust.

Zara Marcus, specialist child sexual exploitation worker for the charity, said: “This fund will be used for a new project called Safer Spaces where we will be going out into the community to speak to vulnerable girls who don’t trust people easily.

“I am going to try and get a good rapport with the girls before telling them about the help they can gain from Getaway Girls.

“I believe that it will be a more proactive way of doing things and giving the girls the help they need to escape exploitation.”

On top of this it is wanting to launch a mentoring scheme for the young girls who regularly use the hub in Harehills, by enlisting the help of women who have been through the same trials and tribulations and managed to overcome them.

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: “One hundred and thirty local groups have benefited from the Safer Communities Fund since I introduced it back in 2012.

“Many charities like Getaway Girls are in desperate need of funding especially due to the recent youth services cuts.”

Mr Burns-Williamson introduced the fund to put money seized from criminals to more positive use and benefit the community of Leeds.

Flavia Docherty, director of Getaway Girls said: “Our work is crucial and the fund means that we can put on an extra session a week for the girls.”

To find out more about the Safer Communities Fund, including how to apply, visit the PCC’s website.

The fund closes for applications at 5pm on January 20.

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