STOPPING girls in Birmingham from getting involved with gangs is the aim of a new initiative run by Spurgeons Children’s Charity.
The Christian organisation, founded by the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon in 1867, has announced that it will work with Birmingham Police and Schools Panels with a project, BeLeave.
Girls who do join gangs are often sexually exploited and implicated in criminal activity. Those aged between 11 and 18 will be referred to Spurgeons if their schools detect warning signs, such as sudden behavioural changes, poor attendance, or becoming known to the police.
BeLeave will offer counselling and one-to-one support with both the girl and her parents or carers. Besides trying to build up girls’ self-esteem and aspirations, the project will also aim to educate families about the risks of gang involvement and help to identify the warning signs for themselves.
Kelly Walker, project lead for Spurgeons, said: “By providing a holistic programme of support that changes both a girl’s behaviour and environment, we reduce the likelihood of a girl’s future gang activity.
“Our whole family approach means parents gain new parenting skills and confidence to set and enforce boundaries. Stronger family units will reduce the risky behaviours that lead to a girl’s gang activity.”
The scheme has been funded by Comic Relief and will support 45 girls and their families for three years.