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Children experiencing trauma of sexual exploitation helped by TIGER

Release Date: 16 Mar 2018

Children suffering from the debilitating trauma of sexual exploitation are being supported through a pioneering new programme being developed by Barnardo’s in London.

Barnardo's has launched a trial called TIGER – Trauma-Informed Growth and Empowered Recovery – to help young people come to terms with being raped, abused or having their trust violated, so they can find the inner strength to recover from bad experiences.

TIGER is already up and running in two London boroughs and experts from Barnardo’s presented the programme to senior Metropolitan Police officers, commissioners and professionals at the London Child Sexual Exploitation Conference in the City of London on Friday March 16, in the hope of reaching more children across the capital.

The programme combines specialist coaching and psychological techniques, helping children learn how to cope with traumatic memories instead of avoiding them. Barnardo’s workers are developing a package of support and training and are being supported by experts in clinical psychology from the Anna Freud Centre at University College London.

Jessica Juon, Assistant Director of Children’s Services at Barnardo’s London, said:

It’s not enough just to teach children about child sexual abuse and exploitation – they need to feel safe. Children who have been sexually exploited can feel completely powerless, and being raped or sexually assaulted often causes debilitating levels of trauma.

Barnardo’s has drawn on 25 years’ experience to develop TIGER, which is about acknowledging the true scale of trauma that these children are going through and coaching them to build strength and resilience so they can come to terms with that and move forward. No child deserves to feel trapped by harrowing events that they’ve experienced in the past or are going through now.

The programme runs for around six months and involves weekly meetings with the child or young person. Sessions are also offered with parents and carers to help them understand trauma and develop their own coaching and coping skills.

To find out more please email or call 020 7790 4621.


Notes to editors

Please see case study below of ‘Raj’, who has been supported through TIGER.

For more information please contact Dan Hodges on 07887 737 048 or email

Raj’s journey: Insight, change and empowerment

Raj started working with Barnardo’s after finding herself in risky situations involving gangs, drugs and older men.

She had already had support to help her understand issues around grooming, healthy relationships and consent, and after being referred to the TIGER programme she felt able to talk for the first time about some of the things she had been through.

Through TIGER, she started to express and explore her feelings about the abuse that she has been subjected to. She was able to talk about how she’s distanced herself from friends who she associated with her own risky behaviour, and she has been coached to develop new techniques to help manage her anger.

Raj is now learning more about herself, identifying her strengths and realising her potential to heal and build a positive future.

TIGER: key facts

TIGER stands for Trauma Informed Growth and Empowered Recovery. It is being developed by Barnardo’s London and was launched as a trial in September 2017, initially in Hammersmith & Fulham and Redbridge with further individual cases in other boroughs.

TIGER is a new, evidence-based and trauma-informed approach that builds on expertise developed by Barnardo’s over the last 25 years to improve the lives of sexually exploited children. The programme combines traditional psycho-educational work with trauma-informed practice and coaching techniques.

Children and young people who can be referred for support through TIGER must have been sexually exploited or be at risk of sexual exploitation due to a number of factors, such as being in controlling or unhealthy relationships, regularly going missing, being involved with gangs or having mental health difficulties.

The programme typically involves weekly meetings with the child or young person over a period of six months, building up a trusting relationship over time. Young people are encouraged to set goals for themselves and regain some form of control and self-belief.

TIGER provides a space in which children and young people can express and explore their thoughts, feelings and traumatic experiences.  Barnardo’s specialists coach them to identify their strengths and find the power within themselves to aid their recovery.

Where appropriate, sessions are also run with parents and carers to help them understand how trauma affects the young person and develop their own coaching skills and tools, enabling them to respond in times of crisis and rebuild their relationship.

The developing programme is being continually reviewed and evaluated. Students from the Anna Freud Centre at UCL are evaluating the pilot as part of their MSc degree studies in Child Development and Clinical Psychology.


Last year 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes. We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

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