The Contextual Safeguarding programme, and the team who deliver it, are part of the International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking (IC) at the University of Bedfordshire. The IC is an applied research centre committed to increasing understanding of, and improving responses to, the abuse experienced by children and young people, and is led by Director Dr Helen Beckett. The IC’s work is underpinned by a commitment to: academic rigour and research excellence; collaborative and partnership based approaches to applied social research; meaningful and ethical engagement of children and young people, and; active dissemination and evidence-based engagement in theory, policy and practice.
Our Research Staff
- Dr Lisa BostockSenior Research FellowDr Lisa BostockSenior Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire. Lisa currently manages the National Scale-up project that is working to create, test and embed contextual approaches in 5 new areas: Bristol, Wiltshire, Swansea, Kent and Knowsley.
Successful interdisciplinary working defines Lisa’s career as a social researcher.Unusually, she has worked across housing, health and social care, within children’s and adult services, in Britain and Australia. Lisa has over 20 years’ research and development experience specialising in social policy, evaluation research and user-engagement.
- Vanessa BradburyResearch AssistantVanessa BradburyResearch Assistant
As a member of the Contextual Safeguarding team, Vanessa supports two research projects: the National Scale-Up project (which aims to embed a contextual safeguarding approach across five local authority partnerships); and the Beyond Referrals project (which aims to explore the enablers and barriers to addressing harmful sexual behaviour in schools).
Prior to joining the team, Vanessa worked for a Children's Safeguarding Team, before completing an MA in Development Studies. Working across various international contexts, her research focus has centred largely around exploring 'well-being' in policy and practice, research ethics, decolonisation, and Indigenous rights.
- Jahnine DavisResearch FellowJahnine DavisResearch Fellow
Jahnine Davis joined the Contextual Safeguarding team as a Research Fellow in 2020. She has extensive experience within the charity sector and has been involved in a variety of national and local innovations, bringing about systems change via the promotion of evidence-informed practice in child protection. Jahnine leads on the contextual safeguarding champions and members network, to share, embed and showcase practice-based learning. Jahnine is also the co-founder of Listen Up Research, promoting inclusive practice, with an aim to amplify and better understand the experiences of underrepresented children and young people in child protection research, policy and practice. As a PhD researcher, she is interested in understanding how services respond to Black British-Caribbean adolescents who experience harm in and outside of the home. Jahnine is committed to anti-oppressive practice and works within a Black feminist standpoint.
- Dr Carlene Firmin MBEPrincipal Research FellowDr Carlene Firmin MBEPrincipal Research Fellow
Principal Research Fellow leading the Contextual Safeguarding and peer-on-peer abuse research programmes. Carlene has spent the past 10 years researching young people’s experiences of community and group-based violence and advocated for comprehensive approaches that keep young people safe in public places, schools and peer groups. Her theory of Contextual Safeguarding has informed policy and research agendas for advancing the protection of adolescents, and she has worked with practitioners across the UK to co-create contextual interventions and develop contextual safeguarding systems within children’s social care. Carlene has also conducted 20 case reviews for safeguarding children’s boards to identify opportunities for intervening with extra-familial forms of significant harm.
Carlene was awarded an MBE in 2011 New Years Honours list for "services to girls and women's issues' she was the youngest black women to receive that honour.
- Dr Jenny LloydSenior Research FellowDr Jenny LloydSenior Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire. Jenny is a social and cultural geographer whose works focusses on gender and women’s rights, child exploitation and sexual violence. As a member of the Contextual Safeguarding team Jenny works across two projects: the Beyond Referrals project, which aims to explore the enablers and barriers to addressing harmful sexual behaviour in schools, and the Contextual Safeguarding Scale Up Programme, which aims to embed a contextual safeguarding approach to adolescents experiencing extra-familial forms of abuse across five local authority partnerships.
- Katie LatimerResearch FellowKatie LatimerResearch Fellow
Katie is a Research Fellow in the team.
Katie is an embedded researcher in Hounslow and as part of the London Scale Up Process. She also works on the Contextual Safeguarding strand of the Innovate Project.
Before joining the team in 2019, Katie worked as a Social Worker in a local authority's child protection assessment service.
- Molly ManisterResearch AssistantMolly ManisterResearch Assistant
Molly provides support to the National Scale-Up project, which aims to embed a contextual safeguarding approach across five local authority partnerships, and to Carlene with her personal research’ and instead put ‘support the Head of the Contextual Safeguarding Programme, Carlene Firmin, with strategic research projects.’
Before joining the team, Molly worked for The Children’s Society in bid writing and bid management. Prior to this, she was completing her MA in Human Rights at University College London. Here, her research focused on the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children in post-conflict zones perpetrated by UN peacekeepers. Her wider research interests include sexual violence against women and children of colour, and representations of gender and race in national and international policies in relation to children and women’s rights.
- Hannah MillarResearch AssistantHannah MillarResearch Assistant
As a member of the Contextual Safeguarding team Hannah supports the London Scale Up project, including developing the youth participation aspect of the research across four participating boroughs. Hannah also supports the National Scale Up and The Innovate Project.
Hannah has worked extensively across frontline services with young people who are facing complex and, often, multiple challenges, including exploitation, poverty and involvement in the care and criminal justice systems. Her roles have involved developing positive relationships, enabling participation, foregrounding marginalised voices, creating safe spaces for open dialogue, gathering evidence and responding in partnership with young people and key professionals.
- Delphine PeaceResearch AssistantDelphine PeaceResearch Assistant
Research Assistant in the International Centre, where she supports and documents the implementation of Contextual Safeguarding approaches across Hackney's Children and Families service. Delphine also works on another project within the International Centre that promotes participatory practice with young people affected by sexual violence in Europe. Prior to joining the International Centre, Delphine was part of The Children’s Society Safeguarding and Quality Practice team where she developed and improved service models and safeguarding and practice policies to support frontline services
- Paula SkidmoreSenior Research FellowPaula SkidmoreSenior Research Fellow
As a member of the Contextual Safeguarding team, Paula is based in the North West of England and is currently working with the ‘Youth Now’ project at Positive Steps Oldham to develop a Contextual Safeguarding approach. Previously Paula worked within the HE Sector conducting qualitative and evaluation research related to child sexual exploitation and was on secondment to Barnardo’s Research & Development team for a number of years. Paula has an MA in Criminology and a background in lecturing & tutoring critical criminology at undergraduate and postgraduate level since the late 1980’s in Liverpool, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester.
- Dr Lisa ThornhillResearch FellowDr Lisa ThornhillResearch Fellow
Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire. Lisa joined the Contextual Safeguarding Team in 2020. She has been working with families and young people affected by sexual abuse online and offline since 2005. She has joined the Contextual Safeguarding Team with the ambition of helping professionals, parents, young people, schools and communities create safer spaces, policies, practices and processes in response to the risk of extra familial harm. Lisa works across the two Contextual Scale Up projects – supporting and capturing the process of embedding Contextual Safeguarding systems in both in London and National test sites. Lisa also plays a coordinating role in ensuring the Contextual Safeguarding short course and training content reflects the programme’s latest research findings.
- Joanne WalkerResearch FellowJoanne WalkerResearch Fellow
Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire. As a member of the Contextual Safeguarding team Joanne works across two projects: the Beyond Referrals project, which aims to explore the enablers and barriers to addressing harmful sexual behaviour in schools and to support both local authority partnerships and schools to develop effective approaches grounded within a Contextual Safeguarding framework to address this issue, and the Contextual Safeguarding Scale Up Programme, which aims to embed a contextual safeguarding approach to adolescents experiencing extra-familial forms of abuse across five local authority partnerships.
- Dr Lauren WroeResearch FellowDr Lauren WroeResearch Fellow
Dr Lauren Wroe joined the Contextual Safeguarding team as a Research Fellow in September 2018. Prior to joining the team Lauren worked as a social worker in statutory and non-statutory settings with children and adults and worked as an international researcher evaluating child protection programmes in South Asia. Lauren leads on the Contextual Safeguarding team’s work on contextual approaches to understanding and articulating a child welfare response to young people who are trafficked around the UK to sell drugs and on a national study into the rate, cost and impact of relocation as a response to extra familial harm. Lauren is the co-founder of Social Workers Without Borders, promoting social justice and human rights approaches to social work with people who are subject to immigration control. Lauren is interested in social justice approaches to social ‘problems’ and works from a feminist and anti-racist perspective.
Our Practice Advisors
- Carly Adams EliasYouth Work Practice AdvisorCarly Adams EliasYouth Work Practice Advisor
is the Youth Work Practice Advisor in the Contextual Safeguarding Scale-Up project supporting four sites in London to create, test and embed contextual approaches within their local area. She is seconded from Safer London where she is also working to develop contextual systems to support young Londoners, families and communities affected by exploitation and violence. Carly is an experienced social worker and manager within the children’s voluntary sector; holding national roles with both the NSPCC and The Children’s Society; designing, delivering, managing and developing services for young people affected by harm outside of the family context. Carly is committed to driving quality support for young people that places them at the centre and recognises their strengths and abilities.
- Dr Rachael OwensSocial Work Practice AdvisorDr Rachael OwensSocial Work Practice Advisor
Rachael’s current role is as Social Work Practice Advisor in the Contextual Safeguarding Scale-Up project supporting five sites to create, test and embed contextual approaches within their local area. Rachael has been seconded from Hackney where she helped to develop contextual systems, with a focus on policy development. Committed to participatory and relational social work practice with adolescents, Rachael’s roles have involved establishing a service for missing young people and developing Family Group Conferencing methods within community and youth justice. She is currently completing a PhD in Social Work and Social Care which is a practice based explorative study on an intervention for young parents
Our Operational Staff
- Jeannette AdamesHead of Operations and DevelopmentJeannette AdamesHead of Operations and Development
Jeannette is Head of Operations and Development. She is a registered social worker and has over twenty years’ experience in a range of social work settings. Jeannette joined the team from the Frontline Organisation where she was Head of Region for London. Prior to this, Jeannette worked in local authority child and family social work in a number of roles, including management, workforce development and transformational lead for a Children Social Care Innovation Project. Jeannette has a keen interest in the use of evidence-informed innovative practices that provide bespoke solutions for local needs and drivers for the benefit of children and families.
- Gayanthi HapuarachchiAdmin CoordinatorGayanthi HapuarachchiAdmin Coordinator
Contextual Safeguarding Project Administrator, Gayanthi’s role focuses on providing governance support to a number of projects, as well as supporting Carlene in strategic development, alongside navigating internal systems. Gayanthi has an LLB (Hons) and was previously part of a safeguarding team in a low security setting for vulnerable adults with learning disabilities and behavioural disorders