Once an assessment of an extra-familial context or peer group/relationship is complete the findings need to be shared and discussed to inform an intervention plan. This can be achieved through the forum of a Context Conference. The name given to this Tier 2 meeting structure can vary – Hackney, for example, opted to use the term ‘Context Safeguarding Conference’. Much of these meetings mirror Child Protection Conferences – they have the same chairing arrangements and similar meeting structure for example. They are welfare driven, and focused therefore on the safety and well-being of associated young people, addressed through discussions about the context itself. In the Context Conferences piloted in Hackney attendees have commented that social work leadership in these meetings is significant – changing the dynamic from being one about crime reduction or community safety – and has enabled engagement from non-traditional partners such as local business and residents associations.
Furthermore, it is the context, and not individual people, who are discussed: be that the physical design of a space, the presence of community guardians, the dynamics of peer relationships or the policies and procedures which set out behaviours/practices in that space. Finally, the Context Conference itself can act as an initial intervention – bringing together disparate partners around a shared safeguarding concern and building relationships between services and professionals who may not usually work together. The discussions at Context Conferences can later inform the individual assessments of children and families being impacted by that context, and these information sharing channels are required to ensure that intervention plans for contexts are not divorced from plans for children and families.
When building a Context Conference approach it is important to think through: the purpose of the meeting; how the meeting relates to assessments; chairing arrangements, information sharing agreements and terms of reference, and; how the findings of Context Conferences feed into child and family social work. This part of the toolkit shares all of the resources that Hackney have developed to inform the development of their Context Conferences – and share some reflections, benefits and challenges of creating this component of a Contextual Safguarding System.
Context Safeguarding Conferences Guidance
This guidance supports practitioners to consider how to carry out a Context Safeguarding Conference.
Context Safeguarding Conference TOR
This document outlines the terms of references for the Context Safeguarding Conference developed by Hackney.
Information Sharing Protocol
Hackney developed this protocol and guidance for sharing information with community stakeholders and community guardians.