Adolescence is a time of great physical and emotional change for all children. Part of this is a drive towards greater autonomy. Risk taking is a part of the natural progression to adulthood. In adolescence, it gives children new skills and helps them to develop resilience.
Children and young people face many challenges to their safety and wellbeing. Of these, none is more complex and damaging than exploitation. Being drawn into exploitative situations, where children can be both victims and perpetrators of serious harm, can have severe consequences for them and for their families, friends, and communities.
The newly developing Medway Adolescent Service will not only focus on young people who are being exploited. It will work with young people facing a range of difficulties and challenges that are associated with the state of ‘adolescence’. It will recognise that the more vulnerable the young person is as a result of the difficulties they are experience, the greater the risk is that they may be exploited.
The aim is to align approaches where the intention is to prevent deterioration in circumstances, with more intensive interventions designed to safeguard and protect. This is in recognition that young people can move quickly in and out of high-risk situations as readily as they can move in and out of a willingness to engage with services. If they are to be effective, services for young people must be flexible, available, and accessible.
We intend to develop the Medway integrated adolescent offer so that it can respond to the needs of Medway's vulnerable young people in the way described.
The Adolescent Service will:
- be multi-disciplinary
- work flexible hours
- be delivered from a hub that is young person friendly
- be delivered within communities
It will be delivered by staff who enjoy, and have skills in, working with young people. It will deliver services that are underpinned by strength relationships and restorative-based approaches. In this way it may need to step outside customary delineations between thresholds, particularly at levels 3 (complex) and 4 (acute).