On 30 January, our Services Manager Amanda presented at the National Combatting Gangs, Violence and County Lines Conference. She oversees the direct services that Abianda provides young women and girls, including our pan-London Rescue & Response project and our 16-24 Star Project in the borough of Islington.
Amanda spoke about trauma-informed practice, and how our services embody trauma-informed principles when working alongside young women. We acknowledge that all behaviour is a form of communication so, as professionals, we must ask ourselves why a young person is presenting with a challenging emotion, what is beneath that behaviour? A young woman may be angry or distrustful - but they have reasons to be. As Amanda said - "It is not her job to make us feel comfortable, but it is our job to make her feel safe."
Amanda also shared how gender bias impacts young women and girls affected by county lines exploitation - young women experiencing or at risk of criminal exploitation are often less “visible” to professionals, resulting in a lack of early intervention.
We describe our services as supporting young women and girls affected by criminal exploitation and violence. We have moved away from the term 'gangs' for many reasons, including feedback from the young women who use our services. You can read our reflections on the term 'gang' here.
It was useful to understand the national context of county lines and hear about the services and support in place to help young people. Thank you to the conference organisers Government Events for allowing us to spotlight issues affecting young women and girls.