‘Helping Ourselves Prevent Exploitation’ is a peer mentor project about good relationships and keeping safe, that has been funded by the European Union’s Daphne programme and has run from January 2017. The HOPE Project has been supported by BILD in the South West and Midlands, and by the Social Association St Andrew (SASA) as part of their outreach social work programme mainly with Roma Communities in Bulgaria. The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) have been sharing the project’s progress across Europe.
The consortium held a final one-day conference in Birmingham on the 12th of June where the Devon, East Midland and Bulgarian teams took the opportunity to share their experiences. Together with the audience, the definitions of sexual exploitation and good relationships were discussed, alongside the role of social media. Next to this, a promising practice guide was launched during the event and an evaluation by independent experts was presented.
Not only was it apparent that HOPE had a positive impact on the understanding of sexual exploitation by people with a learning disability, but the peer mentors also acquired new skills and confidence, which made them feel empowered to make the rights choices for the future!