A CHARITY Fun Run will be one of the highlights of a family event to mark National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day in Reading this weekend.
Reading Borough Council is working with Thames Valley Police and a number of local and national charities to stage a family-themed event in Forbury Gardens on Saturday 18th March.
The day will also include games, stalls hosted by various local services and food and refreshments.
National CSE Awareness Day aims to highlight the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation, encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.
The Forbury Gardens event will take place between 10am and 3pm with the 5K Fun Run starting in the popular Victorian gardens at 11am.
Runners or walkers can register from 10am on the day and will be asked to pay £5 to take part, with all proceeds going to charities; The Rahab Project, Trust House Reading, Barnardos and Male Survivors Berkshire.
Other local charities and organisations which will be represented on the day include Reading Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), SAFE! and local sports and activity clubs.
Local authorities, police forces, public bodies and charities work together every 18th March to raise awareness of this form of sexual abuse which involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under 18 into sexual activity.
The NWG Network, which works with voluntary and statutory agencies tackling CSE, are asking people to show their support on the day by writing a personal pledge and posting it onto their social media accounts with the hashtag #HelpingHands or #HelpingHandsRDG and #CSEday17.
Councillor Jan Gavin, Reading’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:
“The safeguarding of children is everybody’s business and this annual campaign is an excellent way of raising awareness of this issue.
“The event at Forbury Gardens on National CSE Awareness Day promises to be a great family fun day with an important message behind it. I hope lots of people go along, take part in the Fun Run, enjoy themselves and raise lots of cash for the charities involved.”
Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of the Reading Local Safeguarding Children Board, said:
“CSE remains a high priority for Reading LSCB, and all partners continue to be committed to working together to help tackle this issue.
“Events such as National CSE Awareness Day and the local family orientated activities taking place at Forbury Gardens are a great way to increase publicity and awareness. I hope all who attend have fun and at the same time we raise money for some well-deserved local charities.”
Supt Stan Gilmour, Local Police Area Commander for Reading said:
“Preventing CSE, and other forms of exploitation, are priorities for Reading Police and we are committed to working together to keep children safe and bring those that try to harm them to justice.
“The NWG Network provides great support to all of us and this day is a good example of how we can come together for the common good.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Representatives of Reading Borough Council, Thames Valley Police, Reading LSCB and other organisations will gather at the start line of the Fun Run in the Forbury Gardens at 10.30am on Saturday 18th March.
More details about National Child Sexual Exploitation Day and the topic of CSE can be found at http://www.nwgnetwork.org/
Anyone who is worried about a child they suspect may be suffering sexual exploitation or abuse should call the Children’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on (0118) 937 3641 during normal office hours or the Emergency Duty Team on (01344) 786543 out of hours.