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Contextual Safeguarding Training

The information on this page forms part of your training. Please ensure you read it thoroughly before attending the virtual event.

Welcome to the Contextual Safeguarding Training. On this page and in the accompanying virtual briefing we will be covering the following objectives:

• To develop an understanding of contextual safeguarding and how the approach is being applied to safeguarding practice in Wirral.
• To understand how extra-familial environments, the home and family, school environments and peer groups interact in terms of risk and safety.
• To understand the influence of peer groups and peer on peer abuse.
• To gain a greater understanding of the implementation plan and the processes currently in place.

You should undertake this training as directed by your line manager and be aware of your own well-being. If you are upset by anything in this module you should seek support from your manager or a colleague.

What is Contextual Safeguarding?
As children move from early childhood into adolescence, they spend an increasing amount of time socialising outside of their families. Peer relationships are increasingly influential during this time, setting social norms which affect young people’s experiences and choices. If they form friendships characterised by violence and harmful attitudes, these relationships may be unsafe and present a risk to the child.

Traditional approaches to protecting children/young people from harm have focussed on the risk of violence and abuse from inside the home, usually from a parent/carer or other trusted adult, and don’t always address the time that children/young people spend outside the home considering the influence of these peer groups and friendships.

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises the impact of the social context on young people’s lives, and consequently their safety. Contextual safeguarding seeks to identify and respond to harm and abuse to young people outside their home, either from adults or other young people. It’s an approach that looks at how interventions can change environments, to make them safer for all young people, as opposed to focussing on an individual.
This short video provides an overview of contextual safeguarding and what it means in relation to different social contexts: Contextual safeguarding video

The model of contextual safeguarding was developed by Dr Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire, and can be simply illustrated as:

What are the risks to young people?
Contextual Safeguarding is applicable to a wide range of risks which can potentially cause significant harm to children and young people where the prime cause of harm is outside of the family. This list is not exhaustive but includes:

• peer on peer and relationship abuse
• criminal/ sexual exploitation/ online abuse
• missing episodes
• risks associated with gangs
• risks associated with radicalisation
• safeguarding risks in public spaces
• trafficking and modern slavery

In the video below Dr. Carlene Firmin speaking about safeguarding teenagers from sexual exploitation and violence outside the home, and the importance of taking a contextual approach.

What should we do?
A Contextual Safeguarding system attempts to disrupt or change harm outside of the home, rather than move families/young people away from them. While parents/carers are often not able to change the nature of risk outside the home, those who deliver services in these spaces are; and these services therefore become critical partners in the safeguarding agenda. This approach extends the concept of ‘capacity to safeguard’ beyond families, to those agencies who manage external settings in which young people may encounter risk.
The contextual approach seeks to identify the ways in which professionals, adults and young people can change environments in which abuse has occurred. For example, rather than housing professionals trying to relocate a young person they may seek to involve youth workers and safer neighbourhood teams to make the housing, in which the young person already lives, safer.

Complex Investigations Team
Wirral Children’s Services is seeking to develop the directorate and partnership practice in relation to contextual safeguarding, as set out in the work of Dr Carlene Firmin, University of Bedfordshire. To do so, the directorate has appointed a head of service for contextual safeguarding. They are supported in the directorate service area by colleagues working in teams across complex and contextual safeguarding, child exploitation and missing, and detached youth work. The coordination of these services will support the directorate to provide the main core of operational response to contextual safeguarding issues. Practitioners and leaders within the service will promote contextual safeguarding responses and activity through system leadership, extending beyond their direct reports and operational case management responsibilities where required.
The team is made up of Acting Team manager, Amanda Jones and Social Worker, Sarah Kemp – the main roles of and responsibilities of the team is to provide coordination in support of the response to complex safeguarding operations as set out by the DfE guidance and identified by safeguarding partners.

Making a referral
If a child or young person is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect please contact the Wirral Integrated Front Door Team who will be able to offer advice and support in any referrals:
Mon-Fri, 9:00am – 5.00pm Tel: 0151 606 2008
Outside of these hours Tel: 0151 677 6557
To see more information on the referral process click on the following link:

Below is a 7 minute briefing which gives an overview of Contextual Safeguarding:

Next Steps
To book on a virtual briefing please click below on the date you wish to attend:

Dates to be added soon

Please ensure you have registered for training before attempting to book a place. Each individual person requires their own registration – do not book places for other people, they will not be recorded as having attended and will not receive a certificate