Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people


Contextual Safeguarding in Hackney: A little further forward!



With the on-going support of Dr Firmin and the research team from the University of Bedfordshire, we have started to look at our existing assessment templates to review how far they consider extra familial risk. In collaboration with our Social Workers, we have modified our Children and Families Assessment guidelines and the assessment guidance for the Young Hackney Prevention and Diversion service to promote practitioner identification of risks outside of the home at the earliest opportunity.

We have explored our existing interventions and processes to seek out those that help address extra familial risk and those that may hinder safe work with young people and their families where risks outside of the home have been identified. As we work to embed practices informed by our learning, we have developed a consultation template which prompts practitioners to think about the contexts the young person is spending time in and identify what needs to happen in order to reduce risks in that context. This is available to practitioners on the Contextual Safeguarding Network.

Importantly, we are seeking to work alongside social work units to work with families and our partners to develop interventions including the development of a safety map and traffic light tool to aid direct work with children and families and to identify specific areas or locations of concern. It is hoped that this will not only assist practitioner understanding and analysis of safety, but will also support safety planning with families.

In addition, we are working with our First Access Screening Team (FAST) service to introduce mechanisms to enable peer-group and location referrals, which will consider both safety in specific locations and what is required to increase safety. Most recently we have worked with local business including a local Mc Donald’s, training their staff in Safeguarding and raising their awareness of Contextual Safeguarding.

In order to test out how Contextual Safeguarding could operate across a whole community, we are excited to be working with one of our Secondary School in Hackney where we will pilot a contextual safeguarding assessment. During the assessment phase we will explore students’ feelings around safety in school (and staff responses to them), within their peer relationships and within their local community. We will be using this information to design and deliver interventions in the school.  We will also be working with partners in the local area including businesses to raise awareness of safeguarding and increase contextual safety.

We recognise that we cannot implement Contextual Safeguarding without the support of the community we serve, and for that reason, we are eager to preference the voices of our young people who, via our youth parliament are helping to design the strapline for our campaign.  In addition through on-going training we are seeking to skill up Hackney as a whole community to appropriately respond to peer on peer abuse.  

We are also seeking less traditional platforms to raise awareness of our Contextual Safeguarding work. In addition to training McDonalds’ staff, we have started to offer training to our Enforcement Officers and our partners in the Health and Education services. Next steps include working with and developing our relationships with organisations including Transport for London in order that we engage all parts of the Hackney community.   

We are a little further forward on our contextual safeguarding journey. Check-in with us soon for the results of our School Pilot.

Posted: 07 Feb 2018

Author: Delphine Peace

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