Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people


In this blog post, Evie Poingdestre explains how a group of young research advisors supported the Contextual Safeguarding team to design the methods used in our Securing Safety study that explored how often, and with what impact, adolescents are placed out of area when they are at risk in extra-familial contexts. More information about the Securing Safety research can be found here: Securing Safety: A study into the scale and experience of relocation in response to extra-familial abuse. – Contextual Safeguarding Network

Evie is a research advisor with the Young Researchers Advisory Panel (YRAP) at the Safer Young Lives research centre, University of Bedfordshire.

Posted: 11 May 2022

Delphine Peace and Dr Lauren Wroe are part of the Contextual Safeguarding research programme at Durham University. In this blog they share initial findings from a European scoping review conducted as part of the 'Contextual Safeguarding Across Borders' project, a study that explores the applicability of Contextual Safeguarding outside of the UK.

Posted: 03 May 2022

Cate Meredith is Senior Consultant for the NSPCC Strategy and Knowledge team and Denise Richards is Training and Development Consultant for the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit. For this blog post, Cate and Denise write about the benefits of 'drop-in' approaches for engaging young people in sport and physical activity and offer their reflections on how to create safe 'drop-in' spaces.

Posted: 03 Feb 2022

In this blog post the Contextual Safeguarding team reflect on their highlights of 2021 - and extend a huge thank you to Contextual Safeguarding Network members for your continued collaboration and support.

Posted: 17 Dec 2021

Dr Jenny Lloyd is an Assistant Professor working on the Contextual Safeguarding research programme. In this blog post, Jenny shares her thoughts about the recent Bafta winning BBC series Alma’s Not Normal

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Posted: 19 Nov 2021

In this blog post Dr Julie Harris and Professor Carlene Firmin talk about the next steps for Contextual Safeguarding as the programme begins to be delivered across two sites - the Safer Young Lives Research Centre and Durham University.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Posted: 16 Sep 2021

In this blog post David Orr, Team Leader at the Young People’s Service (YPS), City of Edinburgh Council, reflects on child criminal exploitation in Edinburgh, what a Contextual Safeguarding approach can offer and the critical issues it surfaces.

Posted: 15 Sep 2021

In this blog post, Lauren Wroe presents the final findings of the Securing Safety study into the rate, cost and impact of relocations as a response to extra-familial harm in adolescence.

Posted: 13 Sep 2021

Nicola Webster is a Disrupting Exploitation Project Worker from The Children’s Society. Through a real life example she shows how a systems change approach, underpinned by Contextual Safeguarding, can reform a local meeting structure to adopt a strengths-based and collaborative approach to supporting young people who are vulnerable to exploitation.

Photo by Philip Chow on Unsplash

Posted: 12 Aug 2021

In this blog post Research Fellow Delphine Peace explores responses to extra-familial harm internationally, and the applicability of the Contextual Safeguarding approach to the international child protection field.

Posted: 30 Jun 2021

In this blog post Lauren Wroe discusses recent developments in the Contextual Safeguarding research programme, and (re)introduces a tool to support interventions into extra-familial harm based on trust and care, as opposed to surveillance and control.

Posted: 22 Jun 2021

In this blog post Tony Meehan outlines the Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) approach and how it can be used alongside and complement Contextual Safeguarding. Tony Meehan is a practitioner of Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) supporting families where child-to-parent violence is a feature.

Posted: 02 Jun 2021

In this blog, Molly examines whether intersectional feminism could be a tool for understanding feelings of power/disempowerment that young people experience which are linked to identity. She asks how this lens could help us understand the ways in which young people experience the different contexts they move through, and what questions we can begin to ask as practitioners to inform interventions into the spaces where young people spend their time.

Posted: 14 May 2021

In this blog post, Research Assistant Hannah Millar discusses her work with the Contextual Safeguarding 'London Scale Up' project, and the role of young people in the design and implementation of a Contextual Safeguarding approach.

Posted: 27 Apr 2021

In this blog post Dr Gill Buck, discusses how she uses Contextual Safeguarding to teach about the connections between social work theory and practice.

Posted: 31 Mar 2021

To celebrate World Social Work Day 2021, and in recognition of the Zulu philosophy ‘Ubuntu’ this year’s WSWD theme, Vanessa Bradbury explores social care as activism; challenging and opening reflection for what decolonising social care can mean. Situating our current system within the wider backdrop of colonial legacies, this piece invites critical reflexivity, consciousness, and an energy towards intersectional and collective solidarity.

Posted: 24 Feb 2021

Mike Botham, of Sandwell Children's Trust, tells us what it's like to have a 'strategic visit' from the Contextual Safeguarding team. Mike oversees a range of services for Sandwell Children’s Trust, including youth offending, edge of care services and the substance misuse team. Mike also supports the Criminal Justice work strand for the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit.

Posted: 13 Jan 2021

In this blog post the Contextual Safeguarding team reflect on their achievements in 2020, and look forward to continued growth, collaboration and impact in 2021.

Posted: 16 Dec 2020

Ida Cohen is Liquidlogic’s Senior Consultant Social Worker. With a background as a service manager in children’s social care, she explores the potential benefits of delivering case management functionality to support Contextual Safeguarding interventions.

Posted: 11 Nov 2020

In this blog Imran Suddle explores the potential of Participatory Action Research within a Contextual Safeguarding approach.

Posted: 26 Oct 2020

Carly Adams Elias is an Organisational Lead for Exploitation at Safer London; an organisation which works alongside young Londoners affected by violence and exploitation, as well as their families, peers, and a recently seconded Youth Work Practice Advisor in the Contextual Safeguarding Team. In this blog, she reflects on the work undertaken between Safer London and the Contextual Safeguarding Team to research how Safer London consider and work with peer relationships within their services.

Posted: 22 Sep 2020

Luke Billingham is a Youth and Community worker in London, and co-authored the Youth Violence Commission Final Report. This blog is written in a personal capacity, and the views presented here are his, not the Commission’s. The blog provides a brief summary of the Final Report and the “#FinalWord” event (at which young experts shared their personal reflections on its findings), before going on to explore the aspects of the report which may be of particular interest to practitioners interested in contextual safeguarding approaches.

Posted: 28 Aug 2020

In this blog, Jo Walker introduces a range of resources for schools and outlines key findings from the 'Beyond Referrals' 2 project: a two-year research project areas to consider how schools can improve their responses to harmful sexual behaviour (HSB).

Posted: 29 Jun 2020

In this blog post Lauren Wroe and Jenny Lloyd discuss their new paper ‘Watching over or working with: understanding social work innovation in response to extra-familial harm’ and ask: do our interventions into extra-familial harm promote relationships of trust or relationships of surveillance?

Posted: 19 May 2020

In this blog Dr Lauren Wroe outlines findings from the ‘Securing Safety’ study into the rate, cost and impact of relocation as a response to extra-familial harm (EFH) in adolescence.

Posted: 13 May 2020

In this blog post Dr Lauren Wroe introduces the five principles of Contextual Safeguarding that have been developed by the CS team.

Posted: 07 May 2020

In this blog Dr Clive Diaz and Nat Wilson reflect on the challenges and opportunities of implementing Contextual Safeguarding in practice based on findings from independent research in a London local authority.

Posted: 23 Apr 2020

In this blog Dr Lauren Wroe, Research Fellow in the Contextual Safeguarding team, discusses the measures laid out in the Coronavirus Act and how they could undermine fledgling attempts to ensure young people who are experiencing extra-familial harm are safeguarded and not criminalised.

Posted: 31 Mar 2020

In the latest blog by Dr Carlene Firmin, she reflects on the term Contextual Safeguarding and its use in three national documents.

Posted: 11 Mar 2020

Dr Carlene Firmin, Head of the Contextual Safeguarding programme, reflects on London’s Violence Reduction Unit’s use of a Contextual Safeguarding framework when designing their strategy.

Posted: 14 Feb 2020

In 2019, the Contextual Safeguarding team and its body of work has grown immensely. Read on to find out more about the reflections of the programme.

Posted: 16 Dec 2019

In this blog Dr Jenny Lloyd draws upon her research with students and staff in schools to explain why she thinks ‘zero tolerance’ approaches to sexual harassment and violence in schools don’t work.

Posted: 29 Nov 2019

We have made a working definition of the term ‘peers’ as it applies to adolescents at risk of extra-familial harm. Katie Latimer, Research Fellow in the Contextual Safeguarding team, introduces this with a blog.

Posted: 22 Nov 2019

Dr Carlene Firmin reflects on a recent policing conference on exploitation to consider the potential role of policing in a Contextual Safeguarding approach.

Posted: 18 Oct 2019

Janice Waters discusses the lived experiences of harmful sexual behaviour in schools from the perspective of teachers.

Posted: 09 Oct 2019

In this blog Delphine Peace shares reflections on how public health approaches in relation to urban planning can make environments safer for children and young people.

Posted: 01 Oct 2019

This new practice guide prompts practitioners to consider both the context of children’s experiences within their family home and in other social spaces, including in the local neighborhood or online, their school or their peer group.

Posted: 20 Aug 2019

Dr Jenny Lloyd discusses the importance of recording and reporting incidents when addressing peer-on-peer abuse in schools.

Posted: 16 Aug 2019

Dr. Peter Yates (Edinburgh Napier University) and James Cox (Social Work Scotland) reflect on the potential of Contextual Safeguarding in Scotland and the thoughts that emerged when Carlene Firmin presented the theory and facilitated professional discussions during a visit in May 2019.

Posted: 11 Jun 2019

Contextual Safeguarding has grown considerably since its inception. Find out more in this blog written by Carlene Firmin.

Posted: 07 Jun 2019

Jason Strelitz (Director of Public Health, Newham) explores the intersection between Contextual Safeguarding and Public Health Approaches and what it insights it offers for keeping young people safe.

Posted: 07 Jun 2019

This blog shares participatory resources for working with young people to inform contextual approaches.

Posted: 29 May 2019

Professor Ramona Allagia (University of Toronto) reflects on how context and environments shape the meaning of 'resilience' for children and young people exposed to intimate partner violence.

Posted: 30 Apr 2019

Kent County Council have been embedding contextual approaches to improve its work with vulnerable adolescents. Listen to a podcast and read case studies to find out more about this innovative project.

Posted: 15 Apr 2019

This blog shares a publication produced by parents of children who have experienced CSE. This parent-led publication was published by Pace, a national charity that works alongside parents and carers of children who are, or who are at risk of being, exploited by individuals from outside of the family.

Posted: 03 Apr 2019

This blog explains how the Contextual Safeguarding team in Hackney is piloting a bystander intervention to tackle harmful or abusive norms and behaviours in a local secondary school.

Posted: 21 Mar 2019

In this new blog David Smellie from Farrer & Co introduces their new peer-on-peer abuse toolkit for schools developed with Dr Carlene Firmin

Posted: 06 Mar 2019

In this blog Gayanthi Hapuarachchi, Contextual Safeguarding Project Administrator, shares a case study she wrote to reflect on the limitations of individualised approaches to safeguarding within our child protection system. This was an exercise conducted as part of the Contextual Safeguarding short course that we are currently piloting.

Posted: 21 Feb 2019

In December 2018 the Contextual Safeguarding team in Hackney held a national learning event to share learning from the benefits of a Contextual Safeguarding System and how this can be effectively implemented in practice.

Posted: 16 Jan 2019

As a productive year comes to an end we share reflections from members of the Contextual Safeguarding Advisory Panel on their last meeting and why they are keen to promote Contextual Safeguarding.

Posted: 19 Dec 2018

Hackney has created an Extra-Familial Risk Panel (EFRP) to review cases of young people (as individuals or in groups) at risk of causing or experiencing harm outside the home and take action to address the risk.

Posted: 06 Dec 2018

A Context Safeguarding Conference is a meeting akin to a Child Protection Conference but, instead of focusing on an individual child, it focuses on a particular location (such as a school, peer groups or a neighbourdhood).

Posted: 07 Nov 2018

James Sykes, Safeguarding in Education Consultant for Hackney Learning Trust and chair of the Schools workstream for the Contextual Safeguarding Project in Hackney, reflects on how contextual approaches have helped him to engage and support schools as key safeguarding partners.

Posted: 24 Oct 2018

James Farley (Friends-International) tells us about the ChildSafe model, a community-based approach to protecting children and young people in South East Asia involving local businesses.

Posted: 26 Sep 2018

DfE Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi commented on Contextual Safeguarding's contribution to the department's guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between pupils at Farrer & Co's annual safeguarding event.

Posted: 20 Sep 2018

This new briefing shares findings from a learning project exploring how areas how areas address risks within neighbourhood and community settings and how they are engaging businesses in this process.

Posted: 13 Sep 2018

Graham Goulden (Cultivating Minds UK) explains how a Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme (MVP), developed in the USA to tackle sexual violence on university campuses and replicated in the Scottish high school setting, uses creative bystander approaches to preventing violence.

Posted: 22 Aug 2018

Julie Hague, Licensing Manager at Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board, tells us about an award-winning Licensing Project to promote the safeguarding agenda across a wide range of licensed trades and wider communities.

Posted: 15 Aug 2018

In this blog Jenny Lloyd from the Contextual Safeguarding Team reflects on UWCSEA's Safeguarding event in Singapore and summarises some of the key challenges and opportunities for International schools.

Posted: 08 Aug 2018

Last week the World Health Organisation and partners released the INSPIRE handbook: action for implementing the seven strategies for ending violence against children, a guide to putting in place a group of measures to prevent violence against children. Delphine Peace reflects on key messages from the handbook from a Contextual Safeguarding perspective.

Posted: 25 Jul 2018

This is an great week for Contextual Safeguarding: we have launched our ‘Scale Up’ project to offer three local areas the chance of support until 2022 to embed Contextual Safeguarding and significant changes have been made to the latest version of Working Together as a result of our consultation response. Find out more in Carlene's blog!

Posted: 18 Jul 2018

We have a new resource page with letter templates that parents and carers can use to write to their local MP and/or their child(ren)'s school to ask them what things are in place to keep young people safe from harm in their local community, and what is being done to respond to sexual harassment and peer-on-peer abuse in schools.

Posted: 13 Jun 2018

The contextual safeguarding project in Hackney is already one year into its delivery. This brief update highlights key pieces of work developed so far and priorities for the project moving forward.

Posted: 06 Jun 2018

Abi Billinghurst, Founder and CEO of Abianda, shares her experience of working with gang-affected young women, and building a social enterprise based on participatory principles. She outlines how participatory approaches are key to understanding the realities of young people’s lives and implementing a contextual approach effectively.

Posted: 30 May 2018

We welcome the new advice by the Department for Education (DfE) on Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges and we are particularly pleased to see that Contextual Safeguarding has remained in the guidance. We also look forward to the addition of a Child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment chapter to Keeping Children Safe in Education which will come into use in September 2018. In this blog Jenny Llyod (International Centre) reflects on these important steps and highlights resources we have developed to support schools respond to these issues. 

Posted: 23 May 2018

Dyonne Pennings (London Borough of Enfield) reflects on the challenge of respecting and amplifying young people’s agency while protecting them against harm, particularly when CSE takes the form of a ‘relationship model’. This includes being mindful not to impose a ‘professional narrative’ of victimhood on young people and considering the context and conditions within which they made their choices.   

Posted: 16 May 2018

This week we share practice from Brent Council's strategic vulnerable adolescents panel which takes a holistic approach to understanding and responding to vulnerable adolescents' needs.

Posted: 02 May 2018

In this blog, Deanna Neilson (Action for Children) explains how Action for Children’s Employability team in Scotland is currently redesigning its risk assessment process, in consultation with young people. The team is integrating contextual safeguarding approaches to address risks in various contexts of young people’s lives and empower them to become change agents in those harmful contexts.

Posted: 18 Apr 2018

Sue Rayment-McHugh and Dimity Adams (Griffith University, Australia) share with us the contextual prevention work they have been leading in Northern Australia, as part of the Griffith Neighbourhoods Projects, in which contextual interventions were used to prevent peer-on-peer abuse in two communities. There are some very interesting parallels with our contextual safeguarding work here in the UK. 

Posted: 11 Apr 2018

In this new blog Emma Greenwood, a Prevention Officer on the National Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Programme, talks about the need to adopt a contextual safeguarding approach to prevention in relation to county lines and target situations or places where children may be criminally exploited or present through the course of their abuse, engaging communities, professionals and families.

Posted: 04 Apr 2018

In this blog Lauren Page-Hammick from Safer London talks about The Safer London CSE Safeguarding in Public Spaces Pilot, co-delivered with Peer Advisors, to hear about young people's views and experiences of their safety in three major shopping centres in London. The pilot is applicable to a range of community settings. Lauren also shares research and a toolkit developed by Safer London to support professionals in public spaces to safeguard young people.

Posted: 21 Mar 2018

We welcome Delphine Girma who is replacing Ruth Atkinson as Research Assistant on the Hackney project. Delphine joined the International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking in July 2017 and previously worked in the voluntary sector.

Posted: 07 Mar 2018

The Contextual Safeguarding Team are pleased to announce the launch of a range of resources for schools to tackle harmful sexual behaviour in schools.

Posted: 27 Feb 2018

In this latest blog, Simone Nyarko (Consultant Social Worker) provides a brief update on the progress made in the Contextual Safeguarding work and developments in Hackney.

Posted: 07 Feb 2018

Happy New Year from the Contextual Safeguarding Network! As 2018 kicks off, the Contextual Safeguarding team outline key things on the horizon for the network, plus ways for members get involved. 

Posted: 03 Jan 2018

The Department of Education have published a new guidance document, ‘Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges’, which includes a section on Contextual Safeguarding. In this blog Ruth Atkinson (The International Center: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking) reflects on the importance of this step , as well as flagging additional key considerations and resources for practitioners. 

Posted: 20 Dec 2017

The Contextual Safeguarding team have submitted their response to the Working Together consultation. The response has been published on the website and can be accessed by members of the network. 

Posted: 13 Dec 2017

In this blog Rachel Searcey from Loughborough University highlights the need for child-adult transitional services for people who have been sexually exploited. The blog evidences current gaps and limitations in age bound services, before outlining suggested pathways for service development and delivery.

Posted: 29 Nov 2017

The Contextual Safeguarding Team have published a new briefing outlining the contextual profiles of young people who display harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) in groups and/or on their own. The briefing provides an important contribution towards understanding of HSB and developing contextual safeguarding practices. In this blog the Contextual Safeguarding Team highlight key findings from the briefing, outlining differences and similarities between the contextual profiles and presenting the implications for practice and service development. 

Posted: 22 Nov 2017

The revised statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ was published this week and is out for consultation. The Contextual Safeguarding team are delighted to see that the revised version includes a chapter on Contextual Safeguarding, and urge members of the network to respond to the consultation. In this blog, Jenny Lloyd (The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking) reflects on the importance of this step and it's implications for practice, as well as flagging key resources available via the Contextual Safeguarding Network that can support practitioners to respond to the consultation.

Posted: 09 Nov 2017

The Contextual Safeguarding Network have now launched their Third Learning Project on holistic approaches to safeguarding adolescents. Members of the Contextual Safeguarding Network are invited to take part in the project via this link.

Posted: 01 Nov 2017

In this latest blog, Rachael Owens from the Contextual Safeguarding Team in Hackney reflects on a recent Hackney Children and Families Services initiative designed to safeguard a peer group of young women through group work. Rachael shares a conversation held with one member of the parents and carers group, capturing the impact of this approach and presenting key learning for practice and for the Contextual Safeguarding team to consider going forwards. 

Posted: 25 Oct 2017

As part of the Our Voices Too project, The International Centre are carrying out research to identify the use and impact of peer support models designed for young people who have experienced sexual violence. In this blog Delphine Girma (The International Centre) outlines the key aspects of peer support identified in a consultation held with the International Centre’s Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel (YRAP).  

Posted: 18 Oct 2017

In this blog Jenny Lloyd (The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking) reflects on the recent BBC Panorama episode on peer-on-peer abuse. Jenny highlights the links between what is portrayed in the programme and key findings from The International Centre's contextual safeguarding research, outlining the need for a response that protects all young people and considers the spaces where harm takes place. 

Posted: 11 Oct 2017

Following her presentation at the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference, Dr Sarah Lloyd (University of Huddersfield) outlines the context, key findings and implications from her research exploring social workers’ understandings of sexually exploited girls as agents and choice-makers. Her full presentation delivered at the conference has now been published on contextual safeguarding website. 

Posted: 04 Oct 2017

In this latest blog Jenny Lloyd (The International Center: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking) outlines the key themes arising at the Royal Geographical Annual Conference, which this year focused on ‘Contextual safeguarding: Approaches to exploitation and abuse of children and young people beyond the home’. Jenny reflects on the event to share learning from the day and to highlight considerations for improving and strengthening practice.

Posted: 27 Sep 2017

This blog outlines how Bristol uses a central database to enable a strategic understanding of the issues and risks experienced by Bristol's citizens. By enabling effective information sharing across services, the Think Family database allows practitioners to run predictive analytics to inform decision making,implement interventions and allocate resources.  

Posted: 13 Sep 2017

This week we feature a guest blog from Soulmaz Bashirinia. Soulmaz is a Service Manager in Hackney Children and Families Services who are working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire to implement a contextual safeguarding framework to work with vulnerable adolescents. In this article she  gives an overview of the project and shares initial learning.

Posted: 09 Aug 2017

Claire Clilverd (Lead of the prevention and identification strand of the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board’s Exploitation Strategy) outlines how West Sussex has developed a contextual approach to Child Sexual Exploitation. Claire reflects on the key steps taken and progress made by West Sussex, who has worked closely with communities and local industry to strengthen their contextual safeguarding processes, as well as key learning from their journey. 

Posted: 28 Jun 2017

Dr Jenny Lloyd introduces a new resource available for local areas to understand and develop responses to peer-on-peer abuse

Posted: 31 Jan 2017

The Resesearch Team has published two new resources on involving schools in the response to peer-on-peer abuse.

Posted: 02 Dec 2016

Catherine Lawler (LSCB Training Consultant) writes about ongoing work in Oldham to understand and respond to young people’s views on sex, gender, respect and consent.  She discusses how professionals elicited young people’s perspectives through questionnaires.  She also writes about ongoing work to embed lessons from research into PSHE curriculum.

Posted: 01 Nov 2016

In this post, Police Inspector Mark Pearson writes about the early intervention efforts of the Margate Task Force.  He discusses contextual approaches to safeguarding, such as geo-mapping, peer group analysis and profiling.  He also writes about multi-agency working through Family Support Panels and ‘Gangs – Need to Know’ sessions.

Posted: 13 Oct 2016

Danielle Fritz, member of the Contextual Safeguarding Research Team, writes about the launch of the Network and what to expect over the next year.

Posted: 11 Sep 2016

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