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The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (WM VRU) are launching #WMExploitationWeek, a week-long regional campaign raising awareness of all forms of exploitation, coinciding with National Exploitation Awareness Day on 18th March (#CEADay21).

The Violence Reduction Unit is a partnership organisation that aims to reduce violent crime across the West Midlands region. It benefits from the expertise of partners in public health, criminal justice, sports, education, and policing so everyone works together to prevent violence.

Over the week, the WM VRU will be sharing information across Facebook and Twitter (@WestMidsVRU) on how to spot the signs of abuse and where to seek support.

The campaign takes on a collaborative approach by bringing together key partners and organisations working to tackle exploitation in the region. Embedded within the communications for the week are materials from the #EyesOpen campaign, co-ordinated by West Midlands Police and the #LookCloser campaign, run by the Children’s Society. 

James Simmonds-Read, National Programme Manager for The Children’s Society’s Prevention Programme, said:

“While professionals like teachers, social workers and police officers, as well as parents and carers, can help prevent exploitation by looking out for the warning signs, we can all play a vital role in doing this.

“That’s why during this awareness week and through our #LookCloser campaign we are urging anyone who encounters children, even young people they may not know, to be vigilant and report any concerns to the police.”

Steve Clarke, Midlands Contract Manager for St Giles said:

“Through the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit, St Giles are helping young people from the region who have been criminally exploited to make a safe and sustained exit from gangs and county lines.”

“We are also working with young people who are at risk of getting involved. Our caseworkers offer patient, persistent support to help young people get their young lives back on track and stay away from future harm. 

Commenting on the campaign, Waheed Saleem, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said:

“We are determined to support communities and organisations to better identify exploitation, to take prompt and effective action to stop harm from occurring, and to support victims to recover.

“We hope this campaign will better equip the region with the knowledge and tools required to safeguard our children and young people.”

“There is a lot of work being done across the West Midlands aimed at tackling exploitation and abuse. We want to ensure there is widespread connectivity across the sector to encourage a collaborative and joint approach benefitting from shared learning and resources.”

“We cannot do this alone”

The campaign will run from 15th – 21st March 2021.

Follow the campaign on the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit’s social media platforms (@WestMidsVRU)

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