Art therapy for former prostitutes in Sheffieldafter CSE cash grant

Sheffield Working Womens Opportunities Project workers. Picture: Dean Atkins.
Sheffield Working Womens Opportunities Project workers. Picture: Dean Atkins.
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Cash is on offer to charities and groups across South Yorkshire who support child sexual exploitation victims.

South Yorkshire Community Foundation is offering funding to groups supporting victims or those vulnerable to CSE.

A total of £80,000 has been raised for the fund so far – including an anonymous donation of £50,000, and £20,000 from Rotherham Council.

One group which has benefited from the fund is the Sheffield Working Women’s Opportunities Project.

The organisation helps women who have been involved in prostitution to turn their lives around.

The foundation gave the group £5,000 to run an art therapy project, which got underway a few weeks ago.

The project helps the women – many of whom fell into prostitution after being trafficked or sexually abused – to deal with their issues.

One woman who has used the sessions said: “Art therapy is teaching me to process painful memories and traumas and understand how they have affected me.

“I didn’t know what to expect and some of the memories have triggered very emotional responses, but where I would once have self-medicated with drugs or alcohol, now I am becoming able to divert myself.”

Sali Harwood, manager at the project, said: “This is a young woman who wrote this after only her third session.

“Art therapy is a good way of providing counselling, but it’s a different kind of counselling. It’s talking about their past and stuff that’s happened to them, but at the same time they are drawing pictures.

“They are not just sitting in a room with a counsellor, they are busy at the same time.”

SYCF is continuing to raise money to give to projects.

Ruth Willis, chief executive, said: “Over the last 10 years, SYCF has awarded £305,817 to organisations working to support young victims of sexual and physical abuse.

“The fund is open to donations from anyone and gives the public an opportunity to help the survivors of this exploitation and others.

“We want to ensure that the work of community groups is supported and sustained.

“There are already many groups funded through the foundation carrying out good work in this area in South Yorkshire.”

CSE has been a high-profile issue in South Yorkshire after an independent report last year revealed about 1,400 children had been sexually abused in Rotherham, between 1997 and 2013

n To donate or to apply, go to www.sycf.org.uk