University to work with Hackney Council to safeguard children from abuse

Tue 21 March, 2017
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Hackney Council and the University of Bedfordshire have been awarded £2 million funding from the Department for Education Innovation Fund to implement a contextual safeguarding framework to strengthen the safeguarding response to vulnerable children and young people.

The programme was developed by Dr Carlene Firmin MBE, from ‘The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking’ at the University, who observes that:

“The current child protection system is primarily focused on individual children and families and limits the extent to which social workers and multi-agency partners can safeguard young people who experience abuse or exploitation outside of the family environment.

“Contextual safeguarding offers an enhanced framework for addressing such harm. We are excited at the opportunity to embed a theory developed at the University within a local service, and look forward to co-creating practices and knowledge that has the potential to advance national and international approaches to keeping young people safe.”

The project provides an opportunity to create an enhanced safeguarding system that is equipped to identify, assess and engage with peer groups and with public and social spaces in which young people are exposed to significant harm. It aims to reduce the need to relocate children away from unsafe social environments and instead, create safety in the places and communities in which they spend their time.

Sarah Wright, Director of Children and Families at Hackney Council said: “We are excited to be working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire.

“This project provides us with an opportunity to address the complex issues affecting vulnerable adolescents in the Borough and to develop social work responses to the risks faced by young people beyond their family environment”.

The funding will be used to embed systemic change over the two year period, which will be supported through initial research, a specialist delivery team, awareness raising and training, and work with partners and residents across Hackney. The programme will report back to Government at regular intervals, and will share its learning with local authorities across the country.


Notes for Editors

  1. Hackney Council and the University of Bedfordshire have been awarded £2m by Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund to overhaul the way local authorities approach child protection.
  2. The University’s International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking is renowned for its research, teaching and learning on child sexual exploitation, child protection and related work.
  3. The University was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize, the highest form of national recognition for universities in the UK, for its pioneering applied research in child sexual exploitation (CSE), influencing new safeguarding policy and practice.
  4. For further information about the work of the International Centre contact Dr Helen Beckett
  5. Journalists wishing to find out more should contact the University of Bedfordshire Press Office, Tel: Ulrika Meegolla on 01582 489399 or 07734 981212


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