A Leeds-based community hub, considered a beacon within voluntary sector, is renowned for the outreach work that they do both within the south Asian and wider communities.

More recently the Hamara Centre has had huge success in the delivery of their ‘Step up Speak up’ programme, funded by Comic Relief, aimed to raise awareness around child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Within the last year the project engaged over 575 beneficiaries through hosted events, consisting of parents, carers, community members and young people. Mentors worked directly with 235 young people via workshops, youth sessions and one to ones.

The taboo subject has been received extremely positively by the community.

Recognising the signs of grooming and abuse (Actors Shane Welsh & Sana Sharaz)

Women, in particular, have taken a keen interest to ensure that as mothers they can support their children and recognise the signs but also monitor and address various situations appropriately. Workshops covered topics such as grooming, abuse, signs and indicators, and internet safety.

Although the project funding has come to an end, a steering group ‘Youth Forum’ has been formed and meets every last Tuesday of every month.

The Youth Forum openly discuss issues which they feel passionately about, debate and campaign for change. This keeps participants feeling connected and gives them a sense of belonging.

Throughout the ‘Step up Speak up’ Programme, we used creative platforms to keep members engaged, film making was a great platform to learn and encouraged young people to participate.

The young people have created a short film ‘MyBuddy’, it was produced and directed by Development Worker Dalveer Sohal.

The film conveys a story of a young girl who’s groomed into a relationship with an older man, displaying the process of grooming and sexual exploitation.

‘My Buddy’ is the end product of the Young people’s desire to produce a resource which would educate youth, parents and the community on CSE.

Showcasing of the film takes place at Hyde Park Picture House on Saturday 2nd November, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, £3 per ticket. Tickets can be purchased on the day or contact Hamara for more details, call 0113 277 3330 or visit the website: https://www.hamara.org.ukhttps://www.hamara.org.uk