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Preventing school exclusion

21st September 2023 | County Lines

The Clewer Initiative

Rob has been getting alongside four boys at risk of school exclusion.

The senior management team at a local primary school knew of Rob’s interest in modern slavery and asked him for help when they became concerned about four young boys who were involved in county lines.

Rob explains: “When I’m not working for The Clewer Initiative, I am a creative education specialist using art to get alongside vulnerable children. The staff at one of the schools I work in was worried about four boys who were at extreme risk of expulsion. The staff, social services and police believed that keeping the children in school was the best place for them because if they were expelled or sent to a Pupil Referral Unit, it would only lead them further into the criminal world they were already a part of.

"As I knew the children through the art work I had been doing in the school, I was asked to adapt our existing county lines material and use it to educate the boys about the dangers of county lines and begin the long work of showing them they have choices."

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“I am spending time with each boy, one -to-one, thinking about how you know who to trust; how county lines drug gangs operate; how the senior gang members are benefitting from their involvement and where it might lead in the long run.

“The children face huge pressure to work for the gang, delivering drugs, and it is hard for them to imagine any other life. I am hoping that by working together over an extended period, the children may begin to see that there are other options and know who to turn to and trust if they want to talk.

“As I work with these children, I am convinced more and more that early intervention is key. Once children are embedded in a county lines gang, it is extremely hard for them to leave. It is so important we give children the tools to resist county lines before they get groomed and manipulated.

"The Clewer Initiative has such brilliant resources for primary and secondary aged children and it is critical we get them into the hands of teachers, carers and social workers to help them in the vital work of caring for, supporting and equipping vulnerable children to avoid county lines.”

Rob has been working for The Clewer Initiative for the last year as a part-time trainer and facilitator. He has developed some of our county lines resources and was recently asked to use them in a totally new and challenging setting.

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