Coventry City players are among dozens of people getting behind a city-wide pledge to help spot and report the signs of child sexual exploitation.
Sky Blues’ captain Sam Ricketts and goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook have represented the entire squad and club in supporting the pledge along with Coventry Blaze players Drew Fisher and Jordan Pietrus.
An online pledge has been set up on the Council’s website www.coventry.gov.uk/csepledge.
By signing the pledge participants are encouraged to report a concern about child sexual exploitation (CSE) to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency or the Coventry Social Care Team on 024 7678 8555 or out of hours on 024 7683 2222.
Children and young people can call or text a 24 hour confidential national helpline NWG number 116 000.
Sue Whitmore, Service Manager responsible for Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), said that the support for the pledge so far had been fantastic.
The CSE Team has set up the pledge as part of its support for the National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on Friday 18 March.
She said: “Professionals like teachers and GPs are vital to helping to spot and report CSE. This also applies to taxi drivers, hotel staff, pub and club staff and many other workers. It is important that children and adults in the community are also vigilant.
“As a parent or carer there are signs to look out for, and children and young people can help look out for friends and family members by staying alert to the signs.”
She also thanked sports clubs and other organisations for supporting the online pledge.
She added: “The support has been fantastic, we really appreciate it.”
Sam Ricketts said: “We are delighted to show our support. CSE is a terrible crime and it is everyone’s responsibility.
“As Coventry City FC, we know the club forms a huge part of the Coventry community, so as well as backing the pledge, we can also help raise awareness for the campaign as well.”
Coventry’s Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team is hoping to increase the numbers of professionals, parents/carers and children and people across the community to actively spot and report the signs of CSE by supporting the National Charity, NWG Network’s national awareness day next Friday (18 March) - the second year that the awareness day has been held.
The NWG network includes around 550 organisations. On Friday 18 March organisations will be asking people to support the day by writing a personal pledge on their hands and posting their photo on social media with the hashtag #HelpingHands.
Coventry City Council’s Child Sexual Exploitation Team, called ‘Horizon’, has been be talking to youth groups, licensed premises, taxi drivers and other community organisations about the pledge.
The team works with other local authorities from the West Midlands' districts that have joined together to set up a new website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.
In Coventry, recent figures indicate that 177 children have been identified as at risk of CSE in the city.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse involving the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.
The National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children or children developing inappropriate relationships with other children.
To sign Coventry’s pledge visit www.coventry.gov.uk/csepledge