As we move into 2019 we’re excited and hopeful about the work we have planned and how it builds on what we’ve achieved in the past two and a half years. You can read more about us and our members through our website and follow the blog for regular updates.

2018: Milestones and Growth

We had the pleasure of welcoming Sara Rowbotham, the Rochdale scandal whistleblower, as a keynote speaker at our #FACEit conference in March. Over 200 residents from faith and statutory organisations, local businesses and individuals joined us to hear about our work and about charities and projects tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) locally and nationally.

I was very honoured to be invited to the FACES conference and hear about the progress FACES has made within Luton so far. Working with faith communities to prevent CSE is extremely important. I have come away feeling very inspired to see how we could continue to work alongside FACES in the future. – Sarah Hegarty, The Children’s Society

In the summer we expanded our work outside of Luton for the first time. We delivered Breaking the Silence training to 120 faith leaders and youth workers at three UK Islamic Mission Mosques in Birmingham, Manchester and Plaistow. The training left them with a better understanding of how abuse can be silenced, more informed of where to get help for victims and empowered to act against CSE.

I love that the event was tailored to the audience and there was cultural sensitivity. – Breaking The Silence participant, Birmingham

Throughout the year we piloted early versions of our youth programme in Church, Mosque and school settings. Our workshops aim to build resilience in a learning environment that encourages children and young people to embrace who they are, acknowledging and valuing different faith, cultural and social perspectives.

I’m not going to be what people want me to be – Teen Programme participant, ‘Identity’ workshop

I learnt how I can help myself by using good communication – Teen Programme participant, ‘Good Communication’ workshop

I’m going to look after my friends better – Teen Programme participant, ‘Healthy Relationships’ workshop

At the end of the year we relaunched our blog with a strategy to utilise the team’s unique experiences to talk more about what drives FACES; our faith and our passion for justice as we strive to see change.

2019: Ambition and Sustainability

We’ll be rolling out our Teen Programme in the new year, creating spaces for children and young people to explore identity, communication, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and safe and unsafe behaviours. They have diverse opinions and experiences that come from various places; their family, friends, popular culture, faith; and ensuring that they feel confident and comfortable enough to express those opinions is a necessary step in provoking thought and influencing safer outcomes. Later in the year we’ll be developing additional workshops to keep children and young people safer online and offline.

Throughout 2019 we want to train 10 FACES Ambassador Volunteers to increase our capacity in Luton. We plan to offer accredited and bespoke training to equip people to work with us with vulnerable people in interfaith settings.

Our Breaking the Silence training is expanding to include more practical content around online safety, communication and early intervention and reporting procedures. We aim to deliver this to 150 parents and faith leaders over the year.

A new research project will also see us carrying out focus groups with children young people across the country. This will help develop our youth programmes for Christian and Muslims and create better ways to prevent CSE in and outside of Luton.

To find out more about our work and how to get involved you can follow our blog for updates or get in touch at operator.faces@gmail.com. FACES is volunteer-led and relies on grants, donations and in-kind support to develop and deliver our work in faith communities in Luton and across the country. Visit our website for instructions for how to make single or regular donations: www.faces.org.uk/donate.

Melissa Llewellyn, FACES Development Worker

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