Students across Buckinghamshire learn about child sexual exploitation through hard-hitting play

  |  Published: Sep 25th 2017

Over 7,000 students across Buckinghamshire will learn how to keep themselves safe from child sexual exploitation through a four-week tour of the powerful and innovative play Chelsea’s Choice to the county’s secondary schools.

Chelsea’s Choice tells the story of a girl who has fallen out with her family and friends and who starts a relationship with an older man. It explores a number of themes to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation among young people, including what makes a healthy and unhealthy relationship, safe internet use and where to go for help and advice.

The play, produced and performed by not-for-profit organisation AlterEgo Creative Solutions, will visit 29 secondary schools across Buckinghamshire to carry out 40 performances for Years 8 and 9 students.

The performances are part of an ongoing awareness-raising campaign taking place across the county and have been arranged by the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board which comprises 18 local partner agencies including the county and district councils, police, health, charity and education partners. The 2017 performances were funded by the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner.

Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to again bring Chelsea’s Choice to Buckinghamshire schools and we are grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner who has agreed to fund this year’s performances. By the end of the production run we will have directly reached 7,200 young people with crucial awareness and safety messages about child sexual exploitation and internet safety.

“Safeguarding children is everybody’s business and by working together through our partnership we are informing, educating and tackling this form of child sexual abuse in Buckinghamshire.”

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Warren Whyte, said: “It’s so important that children and young people are armed with enough information to keep themselves safe and we know from the last time we ran Chelsea’s Choice in 2015 that it’s a brilliant way to engage young people with the subject.

“I would ask parents, carers and the public to take a few minutes to take a look at our campaign website www.ruwise2it.co.uk so they can be aware of the warning signs to look out for, and can say something if they see something.”

Barnardo’s R U Safe is supporting the productions by offering pupils a confidential check-in following the performances and sign-posting them to local support services. Michelle Kukielka, Barnardo's Assistant Director of Children's Services, said: “Young people can get into situations where they don’t always realise they are being exploited. Chelsea’s Choice helps to raise awareness of what can be a difficult subject and allows young people to recognise the signs of grooming and exploitation which in turn helps them to have the skills and knowledge to protect themselves.”

Find out more about how Buckinghamshire is tackling child sexual exploitation at www.bucks-lscb.org.uk and www.ruwise2it.co.uk

How to get help or report a concern:
If you are concerned about a young person you can contact the First Response Team (Children’s Social Care) on 0845 460 0001 or email:
secure-cypfirstresponse@buckscc.gcsx.gov.uk

If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger call 999. Alternatively contact your local police on 101 who will have a dedicated team you can talk to about child sexual exploitation.

Buckinghamshire also has a countywide R-U-Safe? service for young people run by Barnardo’s, which is able to offer advice and support to any young person worried about these issues. Email: rusafe@barnardos.org.uk, text 07546 075 638 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk/rusafebucks

ChildLine also offers support directly to children and young people – contact them on 0800 1111 or visit their website www.childline.org.uk

The cast of Chelsea's Choice, courtesy AlterEgo Creative Solutions
The cast of Chelsea's Choice, courtesy AlterEgo Creative Solutions
Fran Gosling-Thomas, courtesy Bucks County Council
Fran Gosling-Thomas, courtesy Bucks County Council
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