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Mother of teenager stabbed to death to speak at virtual exploitation conference

The mother of a teenager who was stabbed to death in Bedfordshire in 2018, will talk about her experiences and how other parents and carers can prevent their children getting involved in knife crime, during a virtual conference.

Roseann Taylor, whose son Azaan Kaleem died in Luton in 2018, will be one of the keynote speakers at the event being hosted by the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).

‘Exploitation through the lens of parents’ will be held online on Thursday 25 February from 9.30am to 3.30pm and is aimed at those who work with young people across Bedfordshire, as well as parents and/or carers, who may have concerns and want to learn more about spotting the signs of exploitation. 

Exploitation through the lens of parents - conference flyer

Ms Taylor is set to talk about her experience with losing her son to knife crime, as well as her work with the VERU’s Youth Intervention Specialist (YIS) team, which has received more than 100 referrals to work with children, young people and families at risk of criminal exploitation through things like gangs and county lines.  

She said: “Three years on and I am delighted to be in this space keeping the message going – we can all make a difference if we all work together.”   

Tasha Case, YIS Team Leader at the VERU, said: “It has been a challenging, although positive first year in service for the VERU YIS team. Having both professional and lived experience specialists has enabled us to continue to support and engage with young people and their families during these difficult times.”

The event will also include presentations from other members of the VERU YIS team, the National Working Group Exploitation Response Unit, SPACE, Link to Change and FACES, as well as parents who have been affected by exploitation.

The conference will explore the impact of exploitation within the family, missed opportunities, inclusion of parents and contextual safeguarding. 

Lisa Robinson, Exploitation Lead for the VERU, said: “Exploitation can take place in many forms and can include gang involvement, county lines, drugs, sexual violence and exploitation, trafficking, modern day slavery, weapons and cuckooing, amongst other things.  

“We decided to hold this conference for both practitioners, parents and carers as it’s important to know the signs to spot if a child is being exploited. The child may be involved in something and they are too scared to talk about it so it is essential that those involved in safeguarding are aware of what support and advice is available to them. 

“This conference will also give parents and carers to chance to share any concerns they may have about their child and hopefully they will find it beneficial to hear from others in the same position, so they can share similar experiences and the support and advice they found useful.”

The Bedfordshire VERU aims to tackle the root causes of things like gang membership and prevents young people becoming involved in all aspects of gang criminality and exploitation.

It offers specialist support and advice to help both young people or anyone who has concerns about a family member or friend, or works in this area. 

Kimberley Lamb, Head of the VERU, said: “Equipping parents and communities with the knowledge and understanding of what drives violence and exploitation is a key part of our strategy to tackle these issues in Bedfordshire.

“Our focus on empowering the community to address these problems has made a real difference to the lives of countless young people across the county already.

“This conference promises to be another landmark event in terms of building that awareness and I would encourage everyone to sign up if they can.”

Visit the conference landing page for more information.

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