How your old sofa can help halt child sex exploitation in Leeds

Leeds has been identified as a child sexual exploitation hotspot, with vulnerable young people often with troubled backgrounds most at risk from being groomed online or targeted by gangs.
Leeds has been identified as a child sexual exploitation hotspot, with vulnerable young people often with troubled backgrounds most at risk from being groomed online or targeted by gangs.
Promoted by St Luke's CARES

Sales of household ‘preloved’ furniture and electrical goods are raising vital funds to help a Leeds project support girls at risk of sexual exploitation.

Young women are being given a vital lifeline that is helping to transform their future prospects and steer them away from the risk of sexual exploitation.

The Shine Project has helped dozens of girls who were facing an uncertain future – including some at risk of sexual exploitation – to build a more positive foundation for a bright future.

Now the charity-run project is calling for Leeds householders to help ensure more girls can be given a helping hand to steer them from potential problems and boost their prospects – just by putting it at the top of their list when it comes to donating household goods they no longer need.

The charity behind the project, St Luke’s CARES, can then sell the items – from ‘preloved’ sofas, white goods and small electrics to furniture - at their busy shops.

The funds are then ploughed right back into ensuring some of the area’s most vulnerable girls are given life changing support.

The Shine Project’s work has rarely been more necessary: the sexual exploitation of girls has been a persistent problem in recent years, with ongoing concern that despite police and local authority efforts to crack down on perpetrators, young people are still at risk.

Leeds has been identified as a child sexual exploitation hotspot, with vulnerable young people often with troubled backgrounds most at risk from being groomed online or targeted by gangs.

Research in 2015 showed that child sexual exploitation across England had soared by 31 per cent in a single year, with Leeds just behind Bradford and the Wirral with the most young people referred to local authorities for help.

The research by Community Cares revealed that 327 young people in Leeds were referred on the grounds of being at risk of sexual exploitation – a leap of 200 compared to the previous year.

Girls appear to be most at risk, accounting for around 80 per cent of sexual exploitation referrals across the country.

St Luke’s CARES which has a 13 year track record of supporting children, young people and adults with a range of needs, launched The Shine Project to help girls in South Leeds escape negative influences that could have a lasting impact on their lives, such as witnessing domestic violence and drug abuse, family breakdown and child sexual exploitation.

For some, the support means they gain key skills to help their journey to the workplace. For others, The Shine Project also provides the key to raising self-esteem and confidence, empowering them to shift their focus towards more fulfilling and healthy choices.

Since its launch in 2013 it has empowered more than 400 girls through a range of measures, including one to one mentoring, preventative education around child sexual exploitation, courses delivered in local high schools, lunch time and after schools clubs and groups in the local community.

Its showpiece social enterprise project, The Shine Nail Bar in Beeston, was launched in 2015. It provides a chance for girls to experience a work environment and learn fresh skills by running their own manicure service.

It provides a chance for girls to experience a work environment, learn new skills and a place to drop in for advice and support.

A spokesman for The Shine Project has now urged householders to keep the plight of the area’s vulnerable young people in mind – and to support their work by donating unwanted household products to the St Luke’s CARES shops.

He added: “We can collect all sorts of donated pre-loved furniture, white goods, electricals and household donations. Secondly, St Luke's CARES also offers great value house clearance services in the Leeds area.

“All items collected are sold in our charity shops in Middleton and Dewsbury Road to fund community projects in South Leeds which support young people, the unemployed and the elderly.”

Could your unwanted items help support someone in need? Find out how to donate here