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
- 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 supports 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Caroline CresswellResearch FellowCaroline CresswellResearch Fellow
Caroline joined the Contextual Safeguarding Team in 2021 to work across two projects: The National Scale-Up Project and an evaluation of Contextual Safeguarding approaches in social care systems across the UK. Caroline will play a key role in converting evidence into practice resources and in evidence capture on the reach and impact of Contextual Safeguarding to date.
Caroline’s research has focused primarily on policy, services and professional practice relating to supporting young peoples’ transitions, the application of theories on childhood-youth transitions to enhance understanding of transitional journeys and vulnerability, the impact of trauma and family disruption upon the life course, and toward understanding the journeys of care-experienced young people. Caroline has applied experience in developing research methods that enable the participation and narrative storytelling of children and young people. Caroline previously worked across evaluations for the DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme where she developed her interests in innovative approaches to supporting 'at risk' adolescents.
- 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
I joined the International Centre as a Research Fellow in September 2018. I currently work on a number of projects for the Contextual Safeguarding team: a UK-wide project titled ‘Securing Safety: A study into the rate, cost and impact of relocation as a response to extra familial harm’ that is exploring the scale and impact of ‘out of area’ placements of young people who have experienced harm outside of their family home; the delivery of training and teaching for the Contextual Safeguarding programme; editing of the Contextual Safeguarding Network blog; and developing an intersectional, programme-wide study into the implications of multi-agency responses to contextual risk on young people’s rights. I am also a member of the Institute of Applied Social Sciences ‘Forced Migration’ cluster.
I am interested in how discourses and practices of victimisation eclipse structural harms committed against victimised people/s. This began with my doctoral research exploring the dialogical relationship between racialised, hostile discourses and practices toward migrants, the counter-narratives of victimisation they evoke and the dehumanising and de-politicising consequences of such binary accounts. From here, I am interested in the ways that child safeguarding discourses and practices, fastened as they are to individualised constructions of vulnerability and harm, obscure contextual and structural sources of harm to children and young people, galvanising reductive and misdirected accounts of culpability (i.e. parents/(older)young people/’foreigner offenders’).
I am the co-founder of the charity Social Workers Without Borders. A large part of this work is developing social work interventions to facilitate access to services and legal protections for asylum seeking and migrant children and their families. In 2019, alongside Dr Rachel Larkin and Dr Rema Ana Maglajlic, I edited the book ‘Social Work with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants: Theory and Skills for Practice’.
“This book is captivating me. It says it is about social work with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, but it is really about social work's heart and soul, about who we are, where we put ourselves, what we work for, who we identify with, it is about social justice”.
[Review by Gerry Nosowska, Chair of BASW]
- PDip Social Work – University of Salford
- PhD Psychology – University of Manchester
- Masters in Research Methods in Psychology (MRes) – University of Manchester
- BA (Hons) Psychology – University of Manchester
- Counselling Level 3 – Manchester college
- Contextual and structural accounts of safety and harm
- Social justice perspectives in social work
- Anti-racism and migrant rights
- Study: Securing Safety: A study into the scale and experience of relocation in response to extra-familial abuse.
- Contextual Safeguarding Programme: teaching, Contextual Safeguarding blog editor
- I am second supervisor to professional doctorate student Ruth Thomas.
- Wroe, L. E. & Lloyd, J. (2020). 'Watching over or Working with? Understanding Social Work Innovation in Response to Extra-Familial Harm', Social Sciences, 9 (37), 1-17.
- Firmin, C., Wroe, L. E. & Skidmore, P. (2020) A sigh of relief. (pdf) Available at A summary of the phase one results from the Securing Safety study. Available at: https://csnetwork.org.uk/assets/documents/SS-Phase-1-Briefing_FINAL-MAY-2020.pdf
- Wroe, L. Ngandu, B. & King, L. (2020). Surmounting the hostile environment: reflections on social work activism without borders. In Asylum for Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry. S, McGuirk & A. Pine. (eds). Oakland CA: PM Press (forthcoming)
- Wroe, L., Larkin, R. & Maglajlic, R. A. (2019). Social work with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants: Theory and skills for practice. https://www.waterstones.com/book/social-work-with-refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/rachel-larkin/lauren-wroe/9781785923449?utm_source=redbrain&utm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=css&gclid=Cj0KCQjwuLPnBRDjARIsACDzGL0j_yT8B7bgzWRWls0wJWNybSHaSpwmYPgjf1Z5NUqKE8xq3BwwGFcaAgWnEALw_wcB&awc=3787_1559028307_d75f1431d970f9008fcab634646854d8
- Wroe, L. (2019). Social Working Without Borders – Challenging privatisation and complicity with the hostile environment, Journal of Critical and Radical Social Work.
- Wroe, L. (2019). Contextual Safeguarding and County Lines. (pdf) Available at: https://www.csnetwork.org.uk/assets/documents/Contextual-Safeguarding-and-County-Lines-Briefing_-Wroe-Oct-2019-FINAL.pdf.
- Apland, K., Yarrow, E., Wroe, L. (2019). Quantitative and Qualitative Baseline Assessment of Specific Indicators related to the Thailand Child Protection System'. UNICEF.
- Firmin, C., Wroe, L. & Lloyd, J. (2019). Safeguarding and exploitation - complex, contextual and holistic approaches: Strategic Briefing. Available at: https://www.rip.org.uk/resources/publications/strategic-briefings/safeguarding-and-exploitation--complex-contextual-and-holistic-approaches-strategic-briefing-2019/
- Wroe, L. E. (2018). ‘It really is about telling people who asylum seekers really are, because we are human like anybody else’: Negotiating victimhood in refugee advocacy work. Discourse & Society, 29(3), 324–343. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926517734664
- Wroe, L., Ngandu, B. & King, L. (2018). Positioning Social Workers Without Borders Within Green Social Work: Ethical Considerations for Social Work as Social Justice Work. In Dominelli, L. (Eds) (2018) The Routledge Handbook of Green Social Work. London: Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Green-Social-Work/Dominelli/p/book/9781138740792
- Co-founder and trustee Social Workers Without Borders
- Social Work England – Professional member
- British Association of Social Workers – Professional member
- 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.
- 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.
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
As Head of Operations and Development for the Contextual Safeguarding programme, Jeannette oversees the day-to-day administrative and operations functions. In her role, she works closely with the Head of the Programme to resource the programme of research and dissemination.
Jeannette is a registered social worker and has over twenty years’ experience in design and innovation of services for children and families. Prior to joining our team, she worked as Head of Region for London at Frontline Organisation. In addition, she has extensive experience in local authority child and family social work in a number of roles, including management, workforce development and lead for a Children Social Care Innovation Project. She has a keen interest in supporting the systemic adoption of evidence-informed practices that can improve life chances for children and families within their communities.
- Gayanthi HapuarachchiContextual Safeguarding Admin CoordinatorGayanthi HapuarachchiContextual Safeguarding Admin Coordinator
Gayanthi joined the Contextual Safeguarding team in 2018 as the Contextual Safeguarding Project Administrator. Currently as Contextual Safeguarding Admin Coordinator, Gayanthi’s role focuses primarily on servicing governance arrangements for the National Contextual Scale up Project, supporting Dr Carlene Firmin (Head of the Contextual Safeguarding Programme) in strategic development and supporting Jeannette Adames (Head of Operations and Development) with navigation of internal administrative and financial systems. Gayanthi has a LLB (Hons) and is currently working towards her LLM in Intellectual Property and Internet Governance. She has previously provided administrative support to the Director of Clinical Services and clinical managers in low security or vulnerable adults with learning disabilities and behavioural disorders and she has also experience as a senior legal intern for the Director at a law firm and dealt with a range of legal issues including human rights, consumer rights protection and tort law.
- Meegan ScipioResearch AdministratorMeegan ScipioResearch Administrator