A Horsham charity, which helps women out of escorting and prostitution, has secured funding to produce an education pack for schoolchildren.
Since Streetlight started two and a half years ago, volunteers have trained police officers, raised awareness of the signs of escorting and grooming, and befriended girls and women involved in the industry.
The charity’s newest project is the Averageage12 pack, named after a successful social media campaign it ran this summer.
Founding director Helena Croft said: “Averageage12 because 12 is average age of trafficked victims globally and entry into prostitution in the UK.
“One of my team fosters in the district and specifically young girls who have come out of the sex industry or been trafficked. She recently had a 12 year old who fit and confirmed every bit of research we have done.”
She explained how girls can be taken advantage of at an early age. The material in the packs would be tailored to the age group and gender specific.
“It’s a pack we want to get into the hands of every 12 year old. We are going to develop it in the coming months and our goal is to pilot it in Horsham - hopefully with the three senior schools, that’s about 700 12-year-olds.
“There will be two packs - one for boys and one for girls - and what I’m envisaging for this pack is that young people will want them, they will be informed, it will get them passionate about spreading the message to help protect them and their friends from potentially being trafficked or groomed into the sex industry.”
The funding came from the Sussex Community Foundation and another unnamed donor.
Mary Carruthers, programmes manager at Sussex Community Foundation said: “Sussex Community Foundation was happy to support the grant application made to us from Streetlight.
“Our £4,100 grant has paid for ongoing administration and training support costs, printed and other promotional materials and the development of the awareness resource pack.
“Sexual exploitation and the trafficking of people into the sex industry are important social issues. We are happy to fund the work of this volunteer-led community group that supports sex workers to safely exit the industry and to raise awareness among those at risk of being sexually exploited.”
For more information about Streetlight go to www.streetlight.uk.com