Children’s charity Barnardo’s has launched an urgent fundraising appeal in response to a massive surge in child sexual exploitation cases.
Last year it worked with a record 2,118 sexually-exploited children, almost double the number it supported in 2010.
In Bristol, the charity supported 40 children and young people in September 2010 but by September 2014 this had risen to 94.
The youngest child supported by the service was just nine years old and the longest period of intervention was more than six years.
Barnardo’s is facing such unprecedented demand for its services that it has now launched an urgent appeal for donations in order to maintain support across the UK.
Barnardo’s regional director Hugh Sherriffe said: “We have been working to tackle the devastating impact of child sexual exploitation for two decades.
“The scale of this abuse is shocking, with more and more incidences coming to light – including the recent high-profile court cases here in Bristol.
“Our experts see how this abuse inflicts lasting damage to vulnerable children, and they work tirelessly to help these children pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
“Every day, more cases are referred to us across the UK.
“Girls and boys from all walks of life can become victims of this awful crime and the numbers are growing.
“Without further funds we simply won’t be able to reach all of those who need our help.
“We urgently need people to make a donation so that we can give all children who come to our door the support they need.”
The Bristol Post