DOZENS of takeaways, pubs and off licences took part in CSE training aimed at workers in the night-time economy.
Survivors, parents and staff at Swinton Lock Activity Centre approached 56 firms and venues across the borough.
Forty-six agreed to be part of the project, for example by displaying awareness posters, and 33 took part in staff training to spot the signs of abuse.
Now it is hoped the pilot can be extended to more businesses, including revisiting the ten who declined to take part.
Kate Boulton, hired by Swinton Lock as community awareness officer for the project, said they had been shocked at how willing firms had been to take part.
She added: “We were really surprised but I think the way that we approached the businesses was the key.
“I think if we went in with an authoritative stance, there would be a reluctance to engage.
“We had a fantastic turnout on the training and we’ve had businesses calling in to report things.”
Big chains like Costa Coffee and KFC sent staff for training, as well as smaller, independent takeaways and pubs.
Swinton Lock chief executive Jayne Senior said: “I thought that it would be like pulling teeth and we might only get five businesses.
“But I was proved wrong. I never expected it to work so well.
“We’ve put together a package to make these people our eyes and ears out there. It takes a community to support and protect a vulnerable child.”
Sajjad Hamidi, who works at Papa Pizza in Brinsworth, said he had been happy to take part, and had even had people at his college ask him for advice since doing the CSE training.
Sajjad (17) said: “Before this we didn’t know much about it, now as soon as we see something that concerns us, we think back to the training.
“I had walked people home from the takeaway for their own safety, but generally we wouldn’t think twice about certain things.
“Now I’ve even had people coming up to me at college and saying something this or that has happened to me, what should I do, who should I tell?”
The three-month pilot was funded by the South Yorkshire police commissioner.
The aim would be to link with 101 call handlers and Crimestoppers if it was continued.
Report author Adele Gladman, whose 2002 Home Office pilot on CSE in the borough was largely ignored, said: “What a pleasure it has been to do a positive piece of work for Rotherham.
“This had never been done before.
“One thing that was really refreshing was that not one business said: ‘What if we lose customers?’
“If the work were to be extended, these would be the businesses we would have a second crack at.
“Not necessarily because there were concerns, although there were with one or two, but because they just didn’t get what the pilot was about.”