Children at risk of sexual exploitation will benefit from an increase of funds for specialist support.
Norfolk County Council and Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner have invested £360,000 towards the cost of the services.
As part of a three year partnership, known as The Rose Partnership, they will work alongside The Magdalene Group and Barnardo's to help children and young teenagers who have gone missing or may be at risk of sexual exploitation.
Stuart Dark, Vice Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We want Norfolk’s children to have the support they need to stay safe. Sadly, there are people that want to exploit children, particularly those who are vulnerable. By working in partnership we can help to prevent this and give children the one-to-one help that they might need to understand risk, build confidence and develop healthy relationships.
“The Magdalene Group and Barnardo’s have a strong track record of work in this area and this investment will enable them to support even more children and young people.”
Both charities work together to provide interviews when children return home after going missing, whilst The Magdalene Group will also provide a befriending service to those at risk of exploitation.
Suzi Heybourne, Chief Executive of The Magdalene Group, said: "We are so pleased that our work has grown into the Rose Partnership working with Norfolk County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Barnardo's who will work together to tackle this issue and provide support to the young people affected."
Steve Oversby, Director of Barnardo’s East region, said: “We are very much looking forward to working closely with our partners in Norfolk to ensure that the county’s children get the right support and advice they need, either to spot the signs of sexual exploitation or to rebuild their lives if they have been directly affected.
"Barnardo’s has a proven track record in supporting victims of child sexual abuse, with more than 20 year experience in the field.
“We always work with hope, and believe - with the right support at the right time - victims can recover their childhoods and rebuild their lives.”
The project and its services will be based with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which ensures the children referred to them can be offered the right information and support. MASH includes a number of social care staff, health professionals and specialist police officers.
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green said: "Child Sexual Exploitation is a vile and abhorrent crime, which robs children and young people of so much.
"It is crucial agencies continue to work together to ensure children are protected and provided with the vital support they need at the earliest opportunity. Together we can make a difference.”
Image: Norfolk County Council