A spate of high-profile cases in the news recently has highlighted the widespread abuse and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young people and the failure of the child protection system to protect older teenagers.

To address this, Youth Access - the advice and counselling charity - is today launching a two-year national project funded by the Department for Education. The Right 2B Safe project will work to support and safeguard vulnerable 13-19 year olds across England and will be delivered in partnership with local, highly regarded Youth Information, Advice and Counselling Services (YIACS).

Barbara Rayment, Director of Youth Access, said: "The child protection system is failing to protect older teenagers. We believe young people have a right to be safe. There is an important role to be played by voluntary sector advice and counselling agencies that can engage with vulnerable young people on their terms and respond with targeted interventions and a multi-disciplinary approach."

YIACS offer non-stigmatising, accessible drop-in services that often represent the first-line service for young people at risk of harm. The Right 2B Safe project will focus on intervening early on behalf of teenage victims of abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation, self-harm, violence and homelessness.

The project will work in Hampshire, Leeds and Hackney and will develop an evidence base on effective collaboration between the voluntary sector and statutory services.

Local YIACS projects

Off Centre, a YIACS in Hackney, will develop best practice in working with sexually abused or exploited young people. Off Centre will be working with young women, who, for a variety of reasons, often find it difficult to seek the help they deserve. They will provide counselling and therapeutic group support to enable the young women they are working with to come to terms with and develop coping skills to deal with the trauma of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Market Place, a YIACS in Leeds, will provide self harm and safeguarding group work for young women and young men aged 13-18 over a 12 week programme of activities and issue-based sessions. The Market Place will also provide one-to-one work with young people who self harm and/or have safeguarding issues. Young people will be able to gain access to one-to-one support directly from the groups and via the usual drop-in or direct access referral routes.

No Limits, a YIACS in Southampton, will work with YIACS throughout Hampshire to target children and young people aged 11-19 who are at risk of abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation and to offer a wide-reaching package of support to children and young people through a range of interventions, including brief interventions in drop-in settings, group work and one-to-one case work. No Limits' motivated, passionate and multi-skilled Project Workers will work as part of a team, supporting some of Hampshire's most vulnerable children and young people.

The Right2BSafe project is funded by the Department for Education under its National Prospectus Grants Programme 2013-15.

For further information about the programme click here.