Crucial to the success of Contextual Safeguarding is the ability of local areas to work with multiple partners to safeguard and protect children. The ability to work with, share information and develop interventions across partnerships is crucial because, through Contextual Safeguarding, we are often working in places and contexts that are not traditionally associated with children’s social care. Partnerships with the right people and organisations can support this work.
There a number of key partners who are essential to developing Contextual Safeguarding. It is important before developing your approach that these partnerships are considered and that key strategic partners are on-board.
Children’s Social Care:
This is the most important partner. While Contextual Safeguarding was developed predominantly within children’s social care, this has not been the case in all local areas. In places where the approach is developed outside of social care it is essential that social care are involved throughout.
Community Safety partners often already work in the contexts that may be targeted as part of Contextual Safeguarding. Partners such as the police, youth offending team or anti-social behaviour teams may come into contact with young people affected by these issues or in locations outside of the home.
Those in charge of education policy in the local authority will play a vital role, for example those that oversee exclusion policy, the designated safeguarding network and have relationships with individual schools. Schools and particularly designated safeguarding leads will provide important information and are also central to implementing changes.
Health professionals will often work with young people affected by harm outside the home and are an important partner for recognising harm and connecting young people and incidents. Health includes a range of important partners, for example sexual health, CAMHs, A&E, public health, school nurses, the designated safeguarding nurse, and GPs.
Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS):
VCS organisations, particularly those that work with young people and provide opportunities to develop interventions with peer groups and in locations young people spend time.
In addition to these key partners it is important to think about other people and agencies that may have a role in supporting this work:
- Licensing partners
- Councillors and elected members
- Community members and residents
- Young people – how will you involve children in developing your approach to Contextual Safeguarding, will they be consulted?
- Those in charge of the physical layout of places – for example, traffic flow, CCTV and lighting
- Business owners
How will you include these partners in your work? In Hackney, a range of governance structures were in place to support partnership working and dissemination of information including:
- Project Board – made up of multiple strategic partners with a role in decision making for the project
- Advisory Board – a larger group of partners and agencies who provided updates relevant to the project
- Work streams with essential partners – voice of the child, parents, neighbourhoods, education, ICT