Girls in Gangs

Nicky's Story

Nicky* is one of more than 100 girls who have been supported by BeLeave. This is her story, in her own words.

About BeLeave

In partnership with the Birmingham Police and Schools Panels (PSPs), our early intervention project uses a whole family approach in order to prevent Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE).

We aim to build a network of support and establish positive activities for young people as an alternative to anti-social behaviour and exploitation by gangs.

The project is part of an international learning project, Girls in Gangs, pioneered and funded by Comic Relief.

Who do we help?

The project supports girls aged 11-18 years across all of Birmingham who are at risk of, or involved in Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), through a third party, family member or friend.

How we help

Direct one-to-one support: targeted sessions between the girl and family support worker with the aim of developing self-esteem, encourage assertiveness and aspiration; providing a space to be acknowledged and listened to. Sessions will also focus on the risks and consequences of CCE and gang related harm.

Family Sessions: create a space for open discussion aimed at raising families awareness of CCE and gang related harm and identify potential warning signs. Support positive communication and facilitate the reparation of family breakdown.

Community Awareness: raising community awareness of gang-related issues and facilitate support for girls by providing opportunities to access positive activities for young people; such as sports, arts and leisure.

Referrals: referrals can be made via existing PSPs or directly from schools and other agencies. Please contact the BeLeave Team directly for a referral form or if you would like to discuss a potential referral.

What is Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

CCE involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them completing a task on behalf of another individual or group of individuals; this is often of a criminal nature.

CCE often occurs without the child’s immediate recognition, with the child believing that they are in control of the situation. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources.

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

Warning signs

  • Poor school attendance (below 90% attendance recorded within the last month)

  • Displaying violent or risk taking behaviour; where there is a potential to harm self or others

  • Incidents of going missing

  • Drug/substance misuse

  • Anti-social behaviour

  • Criminal activity and pro-criminal peers

We will provide early support in order to prevent CCE or entrance into the youth justice system.

Download our referral form

Further support


The Children's Advice and Support Service (CASS)

0121 303 1888

General email: cass@birmingham.gov.uk

Secure email: secure.cass@birmingham.gcsx.gov.uk

Contact us

BeLeave Project

07976 226555 or 0121 638 0876


girl sitting down
girl in gang


Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the windows which hope has opened.”

Spurgeons Swirl Image

Hopeful Image Blurb


We believe in the value and potential of every child.

Hopeful Image Blurb


We recognise every person as a unique individual, deserving of respect.

Hopeful Image Blurb


We won’t walk away, even when that means making tough choices.