Buck, Gillian; Lawrence, Angela; Ragonese, Ester (OUP, 2017-09-02)
Peer-led approaches hold unique and innovative potential as a response to child sexual exploitation (CSE), yet little is known about such approaches in this field. This study aims to increase understanding by listening to young people using one such service. Qualitative methods were adopted in an attempt to understand how young people make sense of peer mentoring, data were collected through self-completion booklets, interviews and a focus group, and analysed using thematic analysis and Gilligan’s listening guide (see Kiegelmann, 2009). Given the small and local sample, the findings presented are not representative; rather they provide a snapshot, which enables us to consider the approach with this client group and the broader implications for peer-led practices. Peer mentoring emerges here as a method which may have emotional, practical and inter-personal benefits for young people facing multiple vulnerabilities. It also, importantly, reaches young women from hidden populations, who are often missing from, or missed by, support services. The article concludes by reflecting on the dilemmas associated with peer-led work and by outlining suggestions made by young people themselves, in the hope that inherent strengths in the approach can be recognised and embedded.