Blogs, Vlogs, and Webinars, Learning and Reflections

Reflections on bespoke support to tackle child exploitation: views from a local area

Bespoke Support Projects (BSPs) are time-limited programmes for local areas and partnerships who are working together to respond to child exploitation and extra-familial harm, with the aim of accelerating or adding value to existing strategic activity. Here we take a moment to share the experience of working with Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme from one local area.

Bespoke support is led by a member of the TCE Support Programme team and supported by one or more delivery partners who hold expertise in specific areas of work. A BSP is comprised of three phases; scoping, delivery and learning.

A coalition of partners from Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County applied for a BSP in the autumn of 2020 with scoping commencing in November 2020. The aim was to establish a roadmap for integrating the two partnership’s responses to Child Exploitation and Extra Familial Harm.

With each BSP requiring a local area representative to act as a point of contact for the duration of the project, Rachel Miller, Group Manager for Early Help and Youth Justice Services in Nottinghamshire, became a partnership representative for Nottinghamshire and Nottingham BSP.

As the project team reached the end of the scoping phase, I (TCE Project Lead) posed the following questions to Rachel to explore what a Bespoke Support Project can offer a local area.

What has your experience of working on a BSP been like to date?

Rachel: ‘Positive! We have only had a handful of meetings with our TCE Project Lead, but it does already feel like we have moved our thinking forwards and have a better idea of what we want to achieve as a partnership.’

TCE’s experience of delivering BSP’s to date has informed the current approach of scoping, delivery and learning. A prolonged scoping phase is particularly beneficial for establishing a shared understanding and purpose for each project. The bespoke nature requires this time and consideration to fully define the change goal of the project and to explore the partnerships’ local context. The Expression of Interest process allows for engagement with partners at an early stage to scope the challenge they wish to pursue.

How, if at all, is the process different from other projects your local area has engaged with?

Rachel: ‘I have not previously been involved in a project with a completely independent “critical friend”. It’s been helpful to have someone who doesn’t know our systems or services come in to help us reflect on them – it’s a great way of challenging the “it’s just the way we do things around here” scenario.’

TCE has a ‘high support, high challenge, high expectation’ ethos; balancing the critical friend approach of challenge with a solution-focused approach to support. As an external partner, I can offer an approach, which thoughtfully and respectfully provides the critical challenge partnerships request of us. This approach can surface often-unseen systemic challenges on which a partnership can build wider local learning.

The bespoke nature of projects means that they can reflect and respond to local requirements. As a Project Lead, I take into consideration multiple factors within the scoping and design phases to enable a reflective space: which is considerate to the multiple layers of roles and responsibilities, which facilitates active listening amongst participants whilst also encouraging curiosity and appreciative enquiry.

What, if at all, has surprised you about the way that TCE has worked with the local area?

Rachel: ‘I have been surprised by the amount of thinking and reflection time our TCE Project Lead has given to our project between meetings with us. During meetings, she often poses helpful questions, listens and checks she’s understood us, but the special part is that a week later she has had time to ponder on what she’s heard. It has often been these reflections that have been the most poignant and challenging.’

TCE is a strength-based programme, which actively promotes partnerships to pause and reflect. This approach is strongly aligned with the principles of restorative practice. TCE aims to be a catalyst: working alongside a partnership to support and enable them to make change. Working with local partners, not on behalf of them, offering an approach that is reflective and values the partnership as experts within their local context.

As an external Project Lead, I am well placed to capture and play back learning and reflections, which are relevant to and for the partnership. Communication plays a vital role here. After a session with partners across the Nottinghamshire landscape, I ensured that there was an opportunity to reflect back and ‘sense check’ the content and detail of what was discussed and, crucially, what I understood to be an accurate reflection of the local partnership’s context. It is often these reflective opportunities which map the next steps for the BSP.

What would be your advice to local areas considering engaging in a BSP with TCE?

Rachel: ‘Have a small core team of partners/colleagues (5 or less!) who are bought into the concept and can drive the project forwards. You’ll want to have far more people than this involved overall, but you need a nucleus of key players to do some of the hard thinking between the bigger meetings and activities.’ 

We work with partnerships from across geographical and organisational boundaries. Partnerships can consist of local area representatives across a geographical area or networks of organisations who are working collectively to respond to child exploitation and extra-familial harm. It is the energy and appetite of the partnership representatives that progresses the work locally.

The delivery of a BSP can take many formats; sessions are designed around the objectives of the project and range from single agency meetings to larger and broader workshop style events. In Nottinghamshire, the project team began with a core group of local partners and from this we explored who to bring together in order to progress the project. The Nottinghamshire project team intentionally designed a BSP to allow for single and multi-agency reflection; holding both single agency conversations with key partners and multi-agency sessions. The intention of this was to ensure that the voice of all partners was captured and to provide ample space for the discussion and collaborative learning to occur.

How can a local area be best prepared to progress the work of a BSP?

Rachel: ‘The better you know yourselves, both your strengths and your weaknesses, the more you will get out of the programme. We went into the project able to talk in detail about what we were proud of, what was working well and what we knew needed improving. We were also self-aware as a partnership that although everyone was on board with the concept of change, there wasn’t agreement as to what that change would be and we stood to gain or lose differently. This didn’t need a resolution, but did need acknowledging.’ 

Within the Expression of Interest process, partnerships are asked to consider and actively discuss their local landscape; knowledge of the local area; the coalition of partners and the possible strengths and limitations of each. These considerations begin to form the BSP specification and are explored in detail during the scoping phase. The TCE Joining the Dots guiding principles offer support to local areas in applying this thinking.

Where has the TCE Support Programme added value to the partnership’s objectives/goal?

Rachel: ‘It’s a little early to say, but so far the main impact has been shaping the goal itself – helping us refine what it is we want to achieve and helping us be clear as to why.’

The purpose of the scoping stage is to add depth and understanding to the local challenge that the partnership wants to address. We began in Nottinghamshire by bringing together key partners to discuss their change goal; what challenge or problem were we trying to solve, and what does this solution afford to the partnership and young people locally?

What are the key behaviours that have enabled constructive conversations (if you think that this has occurred during the project so far)?

Rachel: ‘Willingness to be open and honest and sit with some discomfort (when listening to reflections of what’s been heard for example). Having the right people in the room for the big thinking/blue sky thinking moments.’

This reflective approach requires partnerships to work transparently and supportively together to explore the local context and unearth the challenges. In a fast-paced, challenging context like child exploitation, this space to pause and reflect can be the very thing that not only identifies the challenges but, crucially, how partners can work together to overcome them.

The TCE Support Programme is currently inviting expressions of interest for the next round of Bespoke Support Projects. Deadline Friday 12 March

*With thanks to Rachel Miller for sharing her reflections of engaging with myself and the TCE Support Programme on the Nottinghamshire Bespoke Support Project.

Call for Knowledge & Practice

Help us to develop our thinking and grow our evidence base by letting us know about tools, resources and learning that you have either created or used to develop your approach to tackling child exploitation.

Share your learning

Accept Our Terms And Conditions

By clicking the ‘Accept’ button you, the user, confirm you have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of Use of this open source website as part of the Tackling Childhood Exploitation Support Programme.

Terms and Conditions of Use

Please read these Terms and Conditions of Use carefully before you start to use the site. By using our site, you indicate that you accept these Terms and Conditions of Use and that you agree to abide by them. If you do not agree to these Terms and Conditions of Use, please refrain from using our site.

Accessing our site

Access to our site is open and public, and we reserve the right to withdraw or amend the service we provide on our site without notice (see below). We will not be liable if, for any reason, our site is unavailable at any time or for any period.

When using our site, you must comply with the provisions of our Acceptable Use Policy (below). You are responsible for making all arrangements necessary for you to have access to our site. You are also responsible for ensuring that all persons who access our site through your internet connection are aware of these Terms and Conditions of Use, and that they comply with them.

Intellectual property rights

The materials of this website have been gifted in kind or commissioned for the purpose of being open and free to access.

As a user, you may print off multiple copies and may download multiple documents.  These documents must only be used to support your work.  You must not pass on any part of the materials on our site to third parties and you must not use any part of the materials on our site for commercial purposes without obtaining a licence to do so from us or our licensors.

As a user of our site, you must not modify the paper or digital copies of any materials you have printed off or downloaded in any way, and you must not use any illustrations, photographs, video or audio sequences or any graphics separately from any accompanying text.   The status of any identified contributors as the authors of material on our site must always be acknowledged.

The identified contributors are the owner or the licensee of all intellectual property rights in our site, and in the material published on it. Those works are protected by copyright laws and treaties around the world. All such rights are reserved.

All trademarks, service marks, trade names, logos, domain names, and any other features of branding are the sole property of the respective contributors.

Our site changes

We aim to update our site regularly, and may change the content at any time. If the need arises, we may suspend access to our site, or close it indefinitely. Any of the material on our site may be out of date at any given time, and we are under no obligation to update such material.

Our liability

The material displayed on our site is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. To the extent permitted by law, we, other members of our group of companies and third parties connected to us hereby expressly exclude:

  • All conditions, warranties and other Terms and Conditions of Use which might otherwise be implied by statute, common law or the law of equity.
  • Any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage incurred by any user in connection with our site or in connection with the use, inability to use, or results of the use of our site, any websites linked to it and any materials posted on it, including:
  • loss of income or revenue;
  • loss of business;
  • loss of profits or contracts;
  • loss of anticipated savings;
  • loss of data;
  • loss of goodwill;
  • wasted management or office time; and whether caused by tort (including negligence), breach of contract or otherwise, even if foreseeable, provided that this condition shall not prevent claims for loss of or damage to your tangible property or any other claims for direct financial loss that are not excluded by any of the categories set out above.

This does not affect our liability for death or personal injury arising from our negligence, nor our liability for fraudulent misrepresentation or misrepresentation as to a fundamental matter, nor any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited under applicable law.

Information about you and your visits to our site

We process information about you in accordance with our Privacy Policy. By using our site, you consent to such processing and you warrant that all data provided by you is accurate.

Viruses, hacking and other offences

You must not misuse our site by knowingly introducing viruses, trojans, worms, logic bombs or other material which is malicious or technologically harmful. You must not attempt to gain unauthorised access to our site, the server on which our site is stored or any server, computer or database connected to our site. You must not attack our site via a denial-of-service attack or a distributed denial-of service attack.

By breaching this provision, you would commit a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. We will report any such breach to the relevant law enforcement authorities and we will co-operate with those authorities by disclosing your identity to them. In the event of such a breach, your right to use our site will cease immediately.

We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a distributed denial-of-service attack, viruses or other technologically harmful material that may infect your computer equipment, computer programs, data or other proprietary material due to your use of our site or to your downloading of any material posted on it, or on any website linked to it.

Linking to our site

You may link to our home page, provided you do so in a way that is fair and legal and does not damage our reputation or take advantage of it, but you must not establish a link in such a way as to suggest any form of association, approval or endorsement on our part where none exists.

You must not establish a link from any website that is not owned by you.

Our site must not be framed on any other site, nor may you create a link to any part of our site other than the home page. We reserve the right to withdraw linking permission without notice. The website from which you are linking must comply in all respects with the content standards set out in our Acceptable Use Policy (below).

If you wish to make any use of material on our site other than that set out above, please address your request to

Links from our site

Where our site contains links to other sites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your information only. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them.

Jurisdiction and applicable law

The English courts will have non-exclusive jurisdiction over any claim arising from, or related to, a visit to our site although we retain the right to bring proceedings against you for breach of these conditions in your country of residence or any other relevant country.

These Terms and Conditions of Use of use and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales.

International partners

Research in Practice is only able to provide technical support for our web services in English.

In the event of any legal dispute or claim, the courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

Storage, retention and access to data will be treated in accordance with our obligations under United Kingdom data protection legislation.

Acceptable Use Policy

Prohibited uses:

You may use our site only for lawful purposes. You may not use our site:

  • In any way that breaches any applicable local, national or international law or regulation.
  • In any way that is unlawful or fraudulent, or has any unlawful or fraudulent purpose or effect.
  • For the purpose of harming or attempting to harm minors in any way.
  • To send, knowingly receive, upload, download, use or re-use any material which does not comply with our content standards (below).
  • To transmit, or procure the sending of, any unsolicited or unauthorised advertising or promotional material or any other form of similar solicitation (spam).
  • To knowingly transmit any data, send or upload any material that contains viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time-bombs, keystroke loggers, spyware, adware or any other harmful programs or similar computer code designed to adversely affect the operation of any computer software or hardware.

You also agree:

  • Not to reproduce, duplicate, copy or re-sell any part of our site in contravention of the provisions of our Terms and Conditions of Use (above).
  • Not to access without authority, interfere with, damage or disrupt:
    • any part of our site;
    • any equipment or network on which our site is stored;
    • any software used in the provision of our site; or
    • any equipment or network or software owned or used by any third party.

Breach of Acceptable Use Policy:

We will determine, in our discretion, whether there has been a breach of this Acceptable Use Policy through your use of our site. When a breach of this policy has occurred, we may take such action as we deem appropriate.

Failure to comply with this Acceptable Use Policy constitutes a material breach of the Terms and Conditions of Use upon which you are permitted to use our site, and may result in our taking all or any of the following actions:

  • Issue of a warning to you.
  • Legal proceedings against you for reimbursement of all costs on an indemnity basis (including, but not limited to, reasonable administrative and legal costs) resulting from the breach.
  • Further legal action against you.
  • Disclosure of such information to law enforcement authorities as we reasonably feel is necessary.

We exclude liability for actions taken in response to breaches of this Acceptable Use Policy. The responses described in this policy are not limited, and we may take any other action we reasonably deem appropriate.

Changes to the Acceptable Use Policy

We may revise this Acceptable Use Policy at any time by amending this page. You are expected to check this page from time to time to take notice of any changes we make, as they are legally binding on you. Some of the provisions contained in this Acceptable Use Policy may also be superseded by provisions or notices published elsewhere on our site.

Your concerns

If you have any concerns about material which appears on our site, please contact

Thank you for visiting our site.