Safer Young Lives is part of the Institute of Applied Social Research

Practice Resources

Learning from the Experts

Letters from the Experts: Young people’s views on how adults could recognise and respond to the mental health and wellbeing challenges they face after sexual abuse

Our Voices

Our Voices consists of a number of different projects and activities that share the same overarching aim - to promote the involvement of children and young people affected by sexual violence in research, policy and practice.

Warrington, C. (2020) Creating a safe space: Ideas for the development of participatory group work to address sexual violence with young people. Download the report [PDF]

Ethical Working Paper on Children and Young People’s Participation. Download the report [PDF]

Dice activity [PDF] - This activity helps young people to talk about sensitive topics by creating case studies of young people’s journeys following sexual abuse through a ‘third person’ lens.

Circle of Participation [PDF] - This is an exercise that helps people to reflect on the value of participatory work and to focus on why we are doing this work. It can be used with practitioners, researchers and young people.

Toothpaste exercise [PDF] – This is an exercise that helps people to think about what it means to share something in a group and the limits of confidentiality in these settings.

Telling our stories [PDF] - This is an exercise that helps people reflect on active listening and what it’s like to have your story told and tell someone else’s story.

For more resources visit Our Voices

Contextual Safeguarding

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding and responding to young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse.

Children’s social care practitioners, child protection systems and wider safeguarding partnerships need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over, or within these extra-familial contexts.

Contextual Safeguarding expands the objectives of child protection systems in recognition that young people are vulnerable to abuse beyond their front doors. Assessment of and intervention within these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices.

For more information visit Contextual Safeguarding

  • Firmin, C., Hill, T., Hill, W., Turnell, A., Turnell, P. and Walker, J. (2021) Signs of Safety and Contextual Safeguarding, Key Messages for Practice. Download the report [PDF]
  • Firmin, C. and Knowles, R. (2020) The legal and policy framework for Contextual Safeguarding approaches, A 2020 update on the 2018 legal briefing. Download the report [PDF]
  • Lloyd, J., Walker, J. and Bradbury, V. (2020) Beyond referrals, Harmful sexual behaviour in schools: a briefing on the findings, implications and resources for schools and multi-agency partners. Download the report [PDF]
  • Firmin, C. and Lloyd, J. (2020) Contextual Safeguarding, A 2020 update on the operational, strategic and conceptual framework. Download the report [PDF]
  • Firmin, C. (2017) Contextual Safeguarding, An overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework. Download the report [PDF]
  • Firmin, C., Eastman, A., Wise, I., Proschaka, E., and with contributions from Holmes, D., Pearce, J. and Wright, S. (2019) A Legal Framework for Implementing Contextual Safeguarding Initial opportunities and consideration. Download the report [PDF]
  • Firmin, C. with Curtis, G., Fritz, D., Olaitan, P., Latchford, L., Lloyd, J. and Larasi, I. (2016) Towards a contextual response to peer-on-peer abuse, research and resources from MsUnderstood local site work 2013 – 2016. Download the report [PDF]
  • Wroe, D. (2019) Contextual Safeguarding and ‘County Lines’. Download the report [PDF]

Short films for practice - CSE research

A series of short films created by our team as a guidance for practitioners working with young people who have experienced sexual exploitation. 

CSE Principles Comics

The participation strand of the Alexi Project included focus groups with young people in different Hub and Spoke projects, asking them about their experiences of CSE services.

What we learned in this work strongly echoed the findings of a number of other research/participatory projects by the International Centre where we listened directly to young people.

So, working with our Young Researcher's Advisory Panel, we have synthesised the messages into 10 principles for working with young people affected by CSE.

We then commissioned the artist Una to illustrate the principles and have turned these into 10 postcards, that can be shared online and in print form with professionals.

Making Noise: Children’s Voices for Positive Change after Sexual Abuse

Children's experience of seeking support after sexual abuse in the family environment

Project - Making Noise


Safer Young Lives Research Centre
Institute of Applied Social Research
University of Bedfordshire
University Square