“Truly helped me understand the harm I was causing to myself and, as a result, has encouraged me to want more from my life. To the point I am excited to live, laugh, and love without the dependence on drugs.”
– Service user
Catch22 has been working with children for over 200 years and today we focus on designing and delivering services that build resilience and aspiration. Catch22 has vast experience of delivering effective child exploitation and missing services and substance misuse throughout the UK.
The 3Ps are our organisational DNA. We believe that improving the lives of the young people and everyone we support is only possible when these basics are in place. To have good people around them, a purpose, and a good place to live.
We apply this when creating care plans with young people alongside our outcome star data, local authority action plans and their child exploitation risk assessment matrix.
Aim of the service
Catch22 are proud to have been delivering in the London Borough of Merton for over 13 years holding contracts working with the most vulnerable young people in the borough.
The Merton Risk and Resilience Service is an integrated substance misuse, child exploitation and missing from home service, focused on mitigating risk and promoting resilience in young people.
“Catch22 supported me during a hard period of my life, and I now feel like I am able to continue my life – feeling strong, settled in work, and I have left my ex who was pulling me down.”
The aim of this service is to reduce harm to young people aged 24 and under who are at risk of harm from, are experiencing, or have been:
- using substances,
- reported missing from home or care, and/or
Merton Risk and Resilience also receives funding from The Wimbledon Foundation to deliver a counselling service in several schools across Merton. This service is aimed at children and young people (aged 11 – 16 years), who have been identified as requiring a one-to-one intervention for a range of emotional health issues and/or as part of dealing with the impact of their parents’/siblings’ substance misuse.
In the contract year 2022 – 2023, the service reached a total of 925 people. Of these:
- 174 were engaged in care planned interventions with SMART and achievable goals agreed,
- 95 successfully exited the service, and
- 76 remained engaged at year end.
This year, the service achieved 97% positive outcomes for the young people engaged in these interventions.
Where child exploitation and missing from home services are commissioned together, we find that they are more effective at identifying and managing risk. From the data depicted in full in the downloadable report for under-18s, young people supported across multiple service strands reduce the need for multiple services and workers.
The highest presentation to our service came from Mitcham, followed by Colliers Wood and Wimbledon, and then Morden.
“They listened to what I had to say and didn’t just give advice, they listened to my point of view.”
– Young person supported by Merton Young Person’s Risk and Resilience
Specialist substance misuse
Merton Young People’s Risk and Resilience are proud to continue to be the service in Merton, supporting young people with substance misuse issues. We aim to support young people with a range of issues, helping them to build their resilience, for example by developing their life skills, identifying and implementing positive coping strategies, with the overall goal of empowering young people to make healthier lifestyle choices.
“You have shown her that there is more to life than smoking every day with no goals. Thank you!.”
– Parent of a service user
Across this reporting year, Catch22 worked with a total of 110 young people aged 11-24 years, who are on a care planned psychosocial intervention (as defined by Public Health England). Of these:
- 87 were under 18 years old. This was a a decrease on last year’s total by 1 in structured treatment across the year, although it represents an increase of 9% in ‘new to treatment’ referrals.
- 23 were aged 18–24. This represents a decrease on last year’s total of 31 in structured treatment.
- An additional 16 young people received a targeted intervention for their substance misuse.
In addition to this:
- 96% of young people under 18 (who completed treatment) had reduced their substance use and/or were drug-free and met care plan goals at exit.
- 100% of young people aged 18-24 (who completed treatment) had reduced their substance use and/or were drug free and met care plan goals at exit.
- 79% presented with cannabis as their main primary/most-used substance. This is lower than national data which recorded 87%.
- 13% presented with alcohol as their main primary/most used substance.
Other substances reported include, ketamine, solvents, tramadol, amphetamines and MDMA.
“They are very encouraging and supportive. They taught me a lot about the drugs I was using and how they affect me. It was really enlightening.”
Ethnicity is consistent with last year’s annual reporting with no significant change of reference. White British is highest represented at 34%. followed by White and Black Caribbean at 11% and Caribbean at 10%.
Evenly split, we saw 50% males and females in treatment. This is similar to last year, which recorded 51% females in treatment. Nationally, almost two-thirds of presentations were male (63%), which is a similar proportion to the previous two years recorded.
“I feel like you made me understand why I smoke and how to stop that.”
14-15 year olds accounted for the largest proportion of those in treatment. This has changed from last year where we saw the largest propotion amongst 15-16 year olds. Nationally, earlier onset use is the highest-recorded vulnerability in the latest reports. Within Merton, we have seen a drop in new referrals to 24% for those over-18.
The most common referral route for young people in specialist treatment was from Children’s and Family Services, with 39% of young people entering this way.
The second most common route was Education, accounting for 22%.
Third most common was self-referral, at 21%. This is a positive increase, which reflects our regular attendance at Merton College and other key schools.
We noted a drop in referrals from Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) across this reporting year, however Youth Offending Teams now have 10 additional key performance indicators (KPIs), one of which is substance misuse. Hopefully, this will support an increase in referrals going forward.
Additionally, 12% of those in treatment were not in education, employment or training (NEED). Of these, 10 were over-18 and 5 were under-18.
Missing from home
Over this reporting period, the missing from home service received 524 notifications, pertaining to 147 individuals.
This year, the number of young people who had multiple missing episodes was 67, of which 25 young people had more than 5 missing episodes this year. This is compared to 18 young people last year.
“Catch22 has been great. My son speaks highly of his support and feels he can tell his worker anything. She’s very understanding and helps in every aspect she can. I hope he continues to work with them. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for all the help she has given us.”
– Parent of a service user
379 Return Home Interviews (RHIs) were completed, which was a significant increase (40%) from last year, when we completed 271.
- 98% of RHIs were offered within 24 hours of receiving the notification.
- 82% of RHIs were conducted within 72 hours where the young people consented and were available.
- 55 missing from home “follow-on interventions” were carried out to young people who had received a RAG rating of either red or amber.
Catch22 often gain information during the RHIs, which is fundamental in respect of multi-agency safeguarding and risk management. Information sharing protocols and partnership working enable agencies to work together in the best interests of the young person, for example, mapping young people across the missing from home, child exploitation and substance misuse strands. Relevant information, issues and/or trends are then shared with the contextual team, Police and MACE Panel as required.
Ethnicity demographics were consistent with last year’s annual reporting with no significant change of reference. White British presented the highest represented group at 41%, followed by Black at 31% and Asian at 14%.
Across this year, we have seen more females reported missing (55%) compared to 44% of males. This is the exact opposite of last year.
12-13 year olds delivered the highest presentations. This is younger than last year where we saw the highest presentations amongst 14-15 year olds. This year has also seen three children under-10 years old reported missing. National reporting has shown that missing children are getting younger.
Across this reporting year, Catch22 worked with a total of 64 young people. 16 were brought forward on care plans and 48 were new referrals that engaged in support. This was an increase of 68% on 2021-2022 .
Referrals continue to be identified through partnership consultation meetings that are held weekly with the team manager from the Contextual Safeguarding team, and social workers from Children’s Services. Screening is completed using the risk matrix score and then, together, it is agreed as to which service is best placed to provide the support required.
We have started to see an increase in referrals for child sexual exploitation (CSE) following a lower number reported the previous year.
Referrals are also identified via the return home interviews. In these instances, young people are supported with additional sessions to reduce their risks of further missing episodes and to reduce the risk of exploitation.
Due to Catch22’s national footprint in relation to the delivery of exploitation services, our specialist Risk and Resilience practitioners have access to a vast library of resources and materials that have been utilised and adapted when working with young people. These resources are categorised under the subject matters we tackle such as grooming, online safety, child sexual exploitation etc.
“Taught me how I could make sure I’m safe online.”
Support is tailored to meet the specific needs of the young person and designed to manage risk, cater to individual circumstances, and aid engagement. The frequency of delivery is led by the needs and wishes of the young people we support: the voice of the child is key to the interventions we provide.
This includes using support techniques such as:
- person-centered approach
- strengths-based approach
- motivational interviewing
- whole family support
- trauma-informed practice
- tailored interventions
- contextual safeguarding
- solution-focused approach
97% of the young people worked with demonstrated reduced risk at the end of the intervention. This is usually captured by a lower score on the reviewed risk screening matrix.
“Helped me stop harmful patterns and my worker was very caring.”
Ethnicity reporting is consistent with last year with no significant change of reference. White British is the highest represented by 31%, followed by Black at 30% and Asian at 9%.
We saw an even split of females and males across this reporting year, which is similar to last year’s data.
Similar to last year, 14-15 year olds were the highest presenting age. This year has also seen six young people aged 12 or under, and one young person aged 10.
Catch On teaching resources
For Child Exploitation Awareness Day on 18 March 2023, Catch22 created and launched Catch On, a free educational resource about child exploitation aimed at Years 7 and 8 (ages 11-13).
The resource contains a suite of options for a single lesson or series of lessons exploring the topic of grooming and exploitation. Materials include:
- lesson slides with embedded links and videos,
- comprehensive lesson plan guidance with photocopiable activity sheets, and
- a handbook for parents and professionals.
The resource has been written by a team of frontline practitioners as well as a curriculum lead from one of Catch22’s schools. The objective is to make children aware of child exploitation, empower them to recognise the warning signs, and know where to go to get help if they or their friends are targeted.
Catch On consists of the stories of three young people – all based on our frontline experience – and teachers can choose to follow the stories in any order. Each story has an opening activity, a video and then follow-on activities to be used at the teacher’s discretion to suit the abilities and sensitivities within the class. It is not necessary to complete all the stories and we recognise that different lessons last for different lengths of time so there is flexibility to accommodate this.
There were more than 640 downloads of the Catch On resources from schools throughout the country in less than three weeks. The Department for Education states that the average number of pupils in a secondary school in England is 948 (190 pupils per year). If all schools were to deliver the Catch On lesson to just Year 7, the resource would reach an estimated 121,344 pupils.
- 124 professionals received substance misuse training over this period.
- 198 young people aged 11-24 completed a brief alcohol audit and received information or guidance.
- 267 C-Card registrations were completed, of which 154 were repeats.
- 10 community resolutions were received (out of court disposal).
This is where first time possession of cannabis offences, in cases where young people are found in possession of cannabis consistent with personal use, were referred to Catch22 to receive a community resolution.
“Gave me advice on how to improve my wellbeing.”
Our outreach activities this year included:
- talking to young people,
- launching a Health and Wellbeing zone in Merton’s libraries
- hosting a weekly health stall stand at Merton College,
- hosting monthly health stalls in Merton’s libraries
- education on how to stay safe, including the CCard and more,
- alcohol audits offering brief advice and harm reduction,
- communicating vaping risks to young people, and
- hosting at the Civic Centre foyer.
Wimbledon Foundation counselling
Over this reporting period, the Wimbledon Foundation’s Emotional Health Counsellor worked with students from Rickards Lodge, Raynes Park High School and Harris Academy Morden. The counselling interventions offered were between 6 to 12 weeks dependent on the identified need.
- 31 students aged 13–17 years old accessed the school-based counselling service.
- 3 secondary schools received one day a week of counselling support for students that did not meet the CAMHS criteria.
This year continued to see young people referred who presented with a range of complexities, including a sustained number of young people reporting that they were experiencing anxiety.
“I felt like you listened to me, and you didn’t judge me. You just gave me ideas to help.”
Anxiety was the most reported concern followed by behaviour issues at school, and self-harm.
Positively we have seen a significant reduction in young people reporting suicidal ideation, and a reduction in school exclusions for those supported.
“Catch22’s Counsellor has continued to work with us at Raynes Park High School for another year in supporting students’ wellbeing and mental health. The Catch22 Counsellor has great communication with us to inform us of any safeguarding concerns. Catch22 have been able to work with and support many different students with a variety of needs, including students with prior and ongoing safeguarding concerns.
“The counsellor is always able to adapt and be flexible with the students worked with and with working around their timetables and the school calendar too which is really helpful and greatly appreciated.
“We are very grateful for all the support offered us and look forward to continuing more work with her next term.”
– Raynes Park High School
Young people have told us about the impact Catch22 has had on them via exit surveys they complete. It is wonderful to see that young people can see the impact the service has had on them. We pride ourselves on ensuring service user feedback is at the heart of what we do.
Some of the things young people have said include:
“I find Catch22 has helped me a lot more mentally than anyone else, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone that needs it.”
“I have been happier and better since expressing my emotions.”
“Talking to someone weekly and having a routine really helps.”
“A good experience to talk to someone about my issues without judgement.”
“It has helped me to try and cope with my emotions.”
“It helped me talk about how I feel and be able to think about what to do if I feel stressed.”
Additionally, we regularly receive feedback from young people who have contacted their worker once they have left the service to thank them for their support and to let them know how they are doing.
As a result of working with Catch22:
- 97% of young people under 18 reported a positive change in themselves as a result of Catch22 intervention.
- 100% of young adults, 18–24 years of age, reported a positive change in themselves as a result of Catch22 intervention.
Young people are also asked if they would recommend our service to a friend and, this year, 98% of them said that they would.
“Approachable and friendly.”
Working in partnership
Catch22 offers interventions across all levels of the Merton wellbeing model, and service delivery is based on the principles of multi-agency working.
We rely on partnerships working with Child and Adult Mental Health Services, social care, youth justice teams and a number of statutory and voluntary agencies for referrals of young people and young adults requiring substance misuse interventions. We also ensure young people participate within their own care plan to create onward support packages with our partners, beyond engagement, as part of exit plans if additional services are required.
We attended a number of strategic groups to ensure the most complex young people that are identified as at risk of and/or using substances, at risk of missing and/or exploitation are referred and have a smooth transition into the service.
We do this by facilitating information sharing and updates for clients in treatment and/or referrals to panel, multi-agency child exploitation panels or strategy meetings, localities board meetings, and via the multi-agency safeguarding hub and social care teams.
We recognise the wealth of support that voluntary and community sector organisations can offer to clients and, as part of building a team around a young person/adult, Catch22 has continued to maintain working relationships and across the London Borough of Merton
In addition to ongoing challenges post-COVID, the cost-of-living increase has impacted on recruitment. We are aware that the social care industry as a whole has seen a sharp rise in vacancies and staff turnover. We also know from staff feedback that it is possible to secure higher pay through agency work, and that some statutory services are paying a higher wage for a role with lower case numbers and responsibilities. We continue to look at innovative ways to advertise and recruit, not least promoting the broad and comprehensive training offer within Catch22.
Issues related to intelligence gathering and sharing can be sensitive to manage, and in a worst case scenario can impact negatively on working relationships with young people and families. The voice of young people and families also tells us that, at times, they feel there are too many professionals involved and that they are unclear on why and who is doing what.
The service continues to engage with some of the hardest-to-reach young people, including those in care, those involved with the criminal justice system, and young people with complex co-occurring conditions and barriers in accessing mental health services. Young people with complex needs require longer term support, resulting in higher case loads for practitioners.
Most recent national data from 2021-2022 shows a 54% reduction in young people in treatment since 2008-2009. However, we need to ensure children and young people can access support if required.
The 72-hour window for return home interviews can be challenging, particularly when high volumes of notifications come in. This year has seen an increase in notifications and children missing.
- Following on from the national review by Dame Carole Black and the publication of the Government’s ten-year plan, From harm to hope, Catch22 will continue to support work with key strategic partners to refresh the Merton young people’s substance misuse needs assessment, to inform the Substance Misuse Partnerships Board.
- As part of ongoing promotional drive, we will offer regular “lunch and learn” workshops to increase awareness and confidence, support partners and professionals with signposting, and support their children and young people to our service.
- We will continue to engage in local and national campaigns or initiatives aimed at addressing substance misuse, health and wellbeing, and promoting healthier lifestyles (such as Alcohol Awareness Week, No Smoking Day, Vaping, Dry January, Mental Health Awareness Week, Child Exploitation Awareness Day and others).
- We will support schools to identify and respond to substance misuse issues, including raising awareness of the risks associated with vaping, to all young people that access the service.
- We will develop and embed service user involvement, including the co-production of a promotional video about the service. This will be done with the aim of breaking down potential barriers and the stigma associated with a substance misuse service, to encourage more self-referrals.
- We will continue to consider funding opportunities that will allow us to enhance and develop our delivery across all strands of Merton Risk and Resilience Service.
- We continuously review our delivery and collaborate with stakeholders and partners to ensure that we never miss an opportunity to develop the service and keep up-to-date with new ways of working.
- Catch22 have co-produced new promotional leaflets with young people. These will be launched in the year ahead.
- We will look to develop a Catch On-style resource for schools about substance misuse.
Research and development
Catch22 has covered national awareness days and campaigns including:
- County Lines Weeks of Action
- Children’s Mental Health Week
- International Missing Children’s Day
- Child Exploitation Awareness Day
- Safer Internet Day
We have participated in national campaigns and consultation responses including:
- Children’s access to pornography open letter (in collaboration with other major children’s charities)
- Nationality & Borders Bill joint statement (in collaboration with other major children’s charities)
- Migration Bill statement of concern in respect of unaccompanied children (in collaboration with other major children’s charities)
- Online Safety Bill consultation
- Victims Bill consultation
- SEND Review
- Violence Against Women and Girls call for evidence
- IICSA consultation
- Commission on Young Lives
- Consultation over Police Guidance for responding to children missing from care
Catch22 continues to campaign for a statutory definition of Child Criminal Exploitation and a national strategy to address it.
We have attended a number of national forums, including:
- NWG Policy Forum (chair) – a policy forum for representatives from the main children’s charities working in the child exploitation arena.
- ECRC meetings (co-chair) – The English Coalition for Runaway Children (ECRC) is a network of providers of missing services for children in England. Representatives of statutory services are welcome but only third sector organisations have voting rights.
- National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Missing Expert Reference Group – hosted by the NPCC Missing Persons Lead, the group has representatives from government departments and national statutory and voluntary organisations working with missing people. There are a number of sub-groups of the Expert Reference Group which Catch22 may sit on. Currently, we are on the Missing Migrant Children group.
- NPCC Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) Stakeholder Insight Group – a group with representatives of third sector organisations, national police, and government departments looking at emerging child abuse threats, convened by the NPCC Lead for Child Protection.
- National Cross-Border Safeguarding Task and Finish Group – looking at issues arising from children from one local authority/police force going missing or being trafficked to another local authority or force to ensure clear, consistent and comprehensive safeguarding responses.
- Metropolitan Police Social Media Partnership and Engagement Board – convened by Metropolitan Police with representatives from youth services and organisations relating to social media, exploitation, and youth violence.
- IICSA final presentation with Professor Alexis Jay
- Virtual round tables including child sexual abuse, the impact of online pornography on children, and missing migrant children
- Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) programme practice principles consultation
During the year, Catch22 produced 11 Research and Development bulletins covering topics including (but not limited to):
- the MacAlister Review of Children’s Social Care,
- online safety,
- the cost of living,
- the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse final report and recommendations,
- LGBTQ+, and
- child criminal exploitation.
Our Young People’s Forum has been involved in events and consultations for the creation of the Tackling Child Exploitation Programme (TCE) Practice Principles. Some young people were involved in making recordings of content so their voices can, quite literally, be heard.
We are also piloting a Parents’ Forum online, which met for the first time in March and will complement local face-to-face Parents’ Forums.
Evidence given by County Lines Senior Service Manager, Johnny Bolderson, to the Education Select Committee generated significant media coverage in most national newspapers including the Guardian, The Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and a number of broadcast media interviews.