There is such a thing as community – The missing link in the safeguarding circle

After an initial enquiry from an NWG network member regarding how services communicate key messages around exploitation to families and communities, I reached out to some of our members to share their current practice. The feedback was interesting with some fantastic examples of work that I wanted to share with you, see below.  With the impact of austerity, we need to harness some of the excellent community-based work that already exists across the country to raise awareness about exploitation as well as sharing emerging practice that we can all learn from.

As a qualified youth and community worker, I worked to empower and enable change in communities. Youth work created safe spaces for young people. It provided opportunities for advocacy, aspiration work and provided a trusted professional who would listen to and help young people come up with solutions together to have a voice in their own community.  To reach young people and families, this often meant going out to where they were, to be flexible in meeting their needs.

When we listen to families whose children are at risk of or are being exploited, they ask for the same considerations: to be listened to, to be valued, to be respected, to have the support of an advocate, for services to be flexible, ultimately, to be part of the safeguarding circle.

Families often say they knew something was wrong with their child’s behaviour but didn’t know why it was happening. This led me to thinking about how we get consistent messages about vulnerability, grooming and exploitation as early as possible into communities.

So how do we do this?

Is this about needing more money, or thinking and doing things differently? Money always helps to oil the wheel of change but surely it has to be about thinking differently and creatively. A shift in the way we work so we can be more inclusive. For example, we can’t have a stand at a school transitions event as the only way of reaching families. We need to also be thinking about other ways where we can engage with other families. We need to go where families are, where they feel safe to talk and feel like someone is listening to them and not judging them.

Here are four examples that came through the NWG network from four different areas across the country which areas are thinking differently.

Community – holding stalls at the local supermarket and signpost families to community venues for follow on sessions meeting their identified needs

Schools – working with children and young people to develop key messages around exploitation and grooming and invite families to hear these messages and also put in book bags. Families are more likely to come to sessions if their child is integral to this learning

Health- putting key messages around exploitation for families in payslips and on work screen savers

Children’s safeguarding partnerships – rethinking where, when and why meetings take place to maximise opportunities for families to attend and be valued in the safeguarding partnership.

I am always really keen to hear examples about what is happening around the country and in particular would really like to know:

How you are working with communities in different and creative ways to raise awareness about CSE and exploitation;

How you have built links and nurtured relationships between your service and communities

How your service has integrated feedback from families and communities to improve practice

I’d love to hear from you about the good work you are doing which I can then share with you all.

Maria Cassidy

Maria Cassidy​

Families and Communities 

Office: 01332 585371

Email:  [email protected]   

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