History of Real Love Rocks
A History of Real Love Rocks
In 2012 Barnardo’s Safer Futures West Service embarked on a large project alongside several Local Authorities in Greater Manchester to scope and address some of the concerns relating to child sexual exploitation in the area. We spoke to collegues from Social Care, Health, Police, Education, Youth Services and Third Sector agencies as well as numerous groups of children and young people. Parallel to this project Barnardo’s recruited a new member of staff to run sessions- soon titled Real Love Rocks- in school in Greater Manchester raising awareness of child sexual exploitation and healthy relationships.
As we delivered schools work and spoke to professionals from their different agencies it became clear that many were regularly dealing with the consequences of sexting, online grooming, pornography, exploitation, risky behaviour, sexism, sexual bullying and confusion around consent. A high proportion of those we interviewed highlighted the importance and need for both prevention and early intervention work, but reflected to us that tackling these issues felt like a daunting task. The message we received from the children and young people was they would like more time in schools and other youth settings to discuss these issues.
We also found locally that schools and professionals confirmed our national research, which was portraying a sharp decrease in the average age of children and young people being identified as being at risk of CSE, unhealthy relationships and risky behaviour. Many felt that access to the internet and an increase in media pressure meant the children they work with are asking more questions and experimenting at an earlier age than the generation before them, leaving a difficult and often overwhelming task and expectation to address these issues, without wanting to further expose children to adult themes.
The Real Love Rocks School sessions run by Barnardo’s were proving popular and effective in raising awareness and chatting to children and young people about these themes. It was evident, however, that there was limitation to the number of children and young people one team could reach. As a result Safer Futures decided to develop Real Love Rocks into a resource that could be delivered by professionals in their universal services. This was piloted across Greater Manchester receiving positive feedback from children, young people and teachers and the resource was launched in May 2014.
Since the launch the resource has been delivered by teachers, social workers, youth workers, school nurses and sexual health professionals to reach more than 14,000 children and young people. The team have worked with an increasing number of Local Authorities who have commissioned the resource for every school in their authority.
To date Real Love Rocks has continued to work alongside multi agency collegues to develop ways to support and equip those working in universal settings. In particular:
Coming Summer 2015 to the Real Love Rocks website to encourage and promote young people to creatively share positive messages about relationships.
An online space for parents helping them to understand what Child Sexual Exploitation is, how to spot the signs and where to go to for support if they are concerned about their child.
An online membership space for professionals offering updates and free resources.
A wide range of specialist training for those working with children and young people about relationships.