More than 350 professionals from local authorities, police, health and voluntary sector from across the county gathered to learn more about a new concept to safeguarding children from risks outside the family.
The conference, which was jointly hosted by the county’s new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and members of the City and County’s’ safeguarding children’s partnerships, centred on Contextual Safeguarding – an alternative approach to traditional methods of child safeguarding.
The concept was developed by Dr Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire and extends the consideration of risk from traditional thinking focused on the risk within the family to include those from outside the family.
The approach recognises the effect friendships, peer groups and external influences and environments can have on young people’s lives and their wellbeing and looks at how these risks can be managed to make children and the places in which they gather safer.
Traditional approaches to child protection have meant that the emphasis is often is on the risk of violence and abuse inside the home, not on wider social relationships, social media, and school and neighbourhood interaction, all of which greatly affects the way young people develop.
The conference welcomed keynote speaker Dr Carlene Firmin who delivered a presentation on Contextual Safeguarding and asked delegates to consider how different contexts relate to each other and inform young people’s behaviours.
It also heard from Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice, who challenged attendees to reflect on local models of safeguarding adolescents and young adults and how they could be developed to not only protect but also prepare young people for their adult lives.
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner and chair of Nottinghamshire’s VRU Board, said: “I’m delighted Dr Firmin was able to visit Nottinghamshire and share her valuable research with us.
“Together with our partners, we are always looking to identify ways we can reduce or eliminate the risks of harm, exploitation and abuse within our communities. Young people today are increasingly exposed to negative influences which impact on their attitudes and behaviour and often these are outside the control of their families.
“Current safeguarding models have limited power to address the problems and influences which occur outside of the family environment and it is clear a new approach is needed to enable us to successfully tackle this vulnerability. The conference has given us ample food for thought and we will look to build on the learnings in the near future.”
Chairman of the Strategic Leadership Group for Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, Colin Pettigrew said: “We were proud to be part of this conference bringing together over 350 partners across the county to hear from experts about how professionals can work together to keep children safe. We recognise that previous ways of working need to develop with the times and to encompass risks and influences which arise from outside of the family environment. The partnership is committed to listening to and learning from the experts, training our team members and to reviewing our practices for the future.”
Catherine Underwood, Director of People at Nottingham City Council said: “We’re proud of the work we’ve done in the city in recent years to respond to emerging concerns about exploitation and abuse happening outside of the family. We always welcome the opportunity to further improve our approach and understanding by learning from best practice. This conference provided an inspiring opportunity for our workforce to think about how we continue to develop our approaches to support and safeguard young people and their families.”
Delegates heard about the recently established VRU and asked questions of the VRU Board, who alongside the PCC included Chief Constable Craig Guildford, Louise Knott, Vice Principal of West Nottinghamshire College, Colin Pettigrew, Director of Children’s Services from the Nottinghamshire County Council and Catherine Underwood, Director of People at Nottingham City Council, as well as VRU Director Dave Wakelin.
Later this month, the VRU Board will consider the next steps and how to implement the research into the current child safeguarding arrangements in Nottinghamshire.
Picture Shows (L/R): Hayley Barsby, Dave Wakelin, Helene Dennis, Paddy Tipping, Dez Holmes, Rachel Miller, Colin Pettigrew
VRU and PCC:
Sallie Blair - 01283 821012
Catherine Underwood: Stephan Richeux - 0115 876 3309
Colin Pettigrew: Catherine Kelly - 0115 977 2424