6 reasons why Communities are our Greatest Assets when it comes to Safeguarding families.

 

 

Safeguarding is high on the agenda for any organisation, group or social club coming into contact with families children and young people. Up to date polices provide a framework for working, a checklist for best practice and  guidance to ensure that staff know their roles and responsibilities.

Putting those policies into practice, staff will be required to undertake quality safeguarding training that is both  up to date, and relevant to your organisation and the service it provides.

Equipping staff with skills knowledge and confidence to respond to the safeguarding concerns  will no doubt help to  improve the health and wellbeing of children and families – however for some time now we have excluded from our safeguarding and training strategies the very people who are our biggest assets – The Community.

If you have not considered the importance of including communities in your own training needs strategies, take 5 mins to read the following and consider if  the effectiveness of your service would be improved by including

  Training for The Community – Your biggest assets in Safeguarding Children 
1. Communities have excellent “opening hours” and rarely close

One of the biggest criticisms of many support services are the limiting aspects of a 9 to 5 approach. Crisis or chaos within a family does not occur at convenient

 times to suit our workplace hours. The times when parents struggle the most and are in need of a sympathetic ear or a hand to look after the kids will be outside of those office hours . Breakfast time , before the school run is frequently a time of increased stress .  The chaos of early evening with meals to prepare, and homework to complete will be when arguments happen and parenting is tested to the limit . Stress that causes parents to feel inadequate is likely to occur during the busiest time of the family schedule. Rather than support being needed  9 to 5 chances are stress  will be highest at bedtime when parents and kids are tired patience runs dry and families  struggle to maintain routine. Communities provide that “out of hours” support at times when struggling families need it the most. It’s friends and family who are at the end of the phone or available to pop round for a brew during the ‘out of office hours ‘ . A welcome support that is rarely acknowledged  .

2. Communities build relationships & trust

Despite the loneliness of modern living and the fact that we don’t always know what ‘goes on behind closed doors’ there is still an element of unity within our local communities. 

You may consider it gossip, concern, or simply taking a neighbourly interest but by and large in close knit communities people do tend to look out for one another .Joined together by geographical area or by common interest such as Women’s Groups, Recovery groups or sports clubs, people are often aware of the ups and downs, the struggles within a family long before services are alerted.

Despite increased effort from services to counteract the stigma there is a still a huge reluctance from many folk   to engage with family support services on a voluntary basis.
Whether that’s because of their own experience or from the experiences of their peers and other family members the fact remains that for some, services will NOT be their first port of call. It will be community members, families and neighbours who will often be the first people they speak to when they are facing difficulties with family life and emotional wellbeing.

3. Communities are the  first to know when families need support

Members of our communities whether they are neighbours, local postwoman, window cleaner or taxi service picking up Mrs Jones for weekly bingo at the community hall, are often the first to spot when something is “not quite right” for a family. From visible signs of poverty to local hearsay about changes in behaviour or routine  it is our community members who are often the first to recognise when families might need a bit of extra support.

4. Communities speak the same language

Without assessment tools, risk and safety  protocols and the barriers created by  “professional speak” communities will dive head first into supporting our most vulnerable 

in society . Through simple words, a listening ear and a safe  space it is our communities  who will often enable parents and children to open up about their difficulties. Communities have that ability to uncover more by chatting over 2 cups of tea and a plate of chocolate digestives than most  professionals would hope to discover from an 8 page assessment form . Despite the huge network of services surrounding children and families it is often the case that families in need will trust their own peer groups within their communities before the professionals

5. Communities are vigilant to families in crisis

It is often neighbours who are the first to alert services when they believe a family is in crisis.  Whether there is a suspicion of domestic violence, child neglect or deteriorating mental health a high percentage of calls to Social Services already come from Community members. It is extremely worrying for services if people disengage from support once concerns have been raised. When those same families also disengage  from their own networks its can be an indication that a family situation is deteriorating and children maybe at higher risk. All the more reason for services to have much stronger links to the wider communities.  As we have seen time and again within Serious Case reviews, without direct contact from members of local communities social services are not alerted to a crisis until it becomes a tragedy.

6. Communities are the final piece in the jigsaw of sharing information

For many years,  multi agency safeguarding training has reiterated the need for information sharing, joint working and 

agreed protocols to improve the safeguarding of children and families. When discussing Safeguarding we  often refer to the analogy of the “jigsaw puzzle”  in multi agency working . Each organisation providing their own piece of the information puzzle to provide a clearer picture of the extent of concerns.  We already know that communities are often the missing piece in that puzzle and much weight is given to those organisations that can engage with and involve communities in the safeguarding process.

When you consider how much communities have to offer when it comes to safeguarding we have to ask

  • Why aren’t we training our communities more – raising awareness of services and referral pathways?
  • Why don’t we routinely afford quality Safeguarding training to our Communities in the same way we would to any other referral agency?
  • Why are we not increasing skills and knowledge of our communities, building stronger relationships and learning from them as the undeniable asset they are for our safeguarding strategies

It is so important for  organisations to have an ongoing training strategy to increase the safeguarding skills of the workforce. In considering the 6 points raised here its clear to see that it is equally important to value the relationships that exist outside the professional arena. Community members are the eyes and ears of services and as such its imperative that organisation consider the needs of the community when raising awareness of safeguarding issues.

Only when organisations consider parents, neighbours, church members, siblings and  other family members in training strategies can ALL the pieces of the “jigsaw of concern” come together . Training in Safeguarding, referral processes and local services is already mandatory for staff teams. However in considering your training strategies and who are your priority delegates for recieiving  training its important to remember that when it comes to safeguarding

 Community members are  your biggest asset

Find out how  you can improve health and involve local communities in your safeguarding strategy

 Contact Deb at Purple Bee Training on 07806780161 info@purplebeetraining.com

 

4 thoughts on “6 reasons why Communities are our Greatest Assets when it comes to Safeguarding families.”

  1. My view on safeguarding in the community has its pluses & minuses, communities as such don’t exist anymore, most people are to busy getting on with their lives.
    The days of everyone knowing everyone in their village, area or tower block are long gone. How many of us can say we know 3 or more people that live across the road from us and their family members, how many of us speak to the person next to us on public transport or know the local shopkeeper ?
    Safeguarding should become SECOND NATURE to us all without fear of reprisals or retribution.
    Communities today are no more than 2 or 3 streets long and tend to be in the worst off areas, the more affluent we become the more isolated we become, when you’re down and out you speak to everybody, when you’re living life high you speak when there’s something in it for you.
    Only in times of hardship do people become a community.
    Recent examples are when Britain had the floods, villages helped one another.
    When children go missing the turnout for searches are commendable, we give up our time with no hesitation. So why can we not give up our time to take an interest in our fellow man?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you are saying , many neighbourhoods do seem to have lost that community feel . That’s why I extend the definition of community to also refer to social groups and groups formed from common identity and relative experience . Recovery groups and women’s groups are just 2 examples of communities that have formed from a sense of belonging that has little to do with neighbourhood . I am optimistic though Owen I do believe community in a neighbourhood sense still exists I just think we have a much wider social reach these days and some folk find that “connection” further afield than their own streets .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Deb Drinkwater, . . by the way, your name is a great reminder for something I don’t always remember to do, than you again, sip.

        To the point, excellent well written and informative piece.
        I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying within these well written points that need addressing in substance, in reality, on the ground , so to speak.

        However, I have just read it through once, and quickly too, what comes to mind for me is ‘TRUST’, . . . that special something that can not be bought or sold , or, just given freely any-more, because of the mis trust services in the past have caused to our communities, among other things. Therefore, TRUST would need to be established in the first instance to build anything worthwhile and long-lasting.

        I will make this reply here very brief, as there will usually be some misunderstandings when others read our written thoughts and translate them through their own lenses and understandings, etc. . .

        The written words you have used to highlight this very important topic, that includes all of humanity as an overarching community; for your essay ‘6 reasons why Communities are our Greatest Assets when it comes to Safeguarding families’. to receive the proper justice it deserves; we need to get together face to face with our communities to discuss and negotiate and then agree upon how we can work together as a loving family. . that would always make the safety of everyone a priority.

        Moreover, as in a “real loving family”, to which most people do not even have a model to refer to, so would not have a picture of what that would look like. . . . or , even a common-unity, that has the foundation stone of real trust as a building block to work on. . .If we did, We would always, guard our most vulnerable family members; ensuring their safety as a natural given. As it was in the days of old , in certain native, tribes and clans, and how it is in some small communities that govern them selves from a higher perspective, other than selfish needs.

        I hope my comment has been of some value to you Deb ? If you would like to discuss anything further , like putting some strategies together , taking action to make things happen ect, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me again.
        Respect & Goodwill, Nick Segal from LinkdIn 🙂 I had to log in with my Word Press I.D.

        Like

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