From 17-21 October 2016, Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, Safeguarding Adults Board and Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Board jointly hosted their fifth annual Bradford Safeguarding Week.

The final day of the event took place at Bradford College and focussed on reflecting on safeguarding, with a host of guest speakers presenting throughout the day.

The day began with an introductory video which summarised the events of the Safeguarding Week so far, and was followed up with a welcome for the day by Cllr Val Slater.

Here to help

The first presentation, entitled ‘here to help’, was a visual demonstration performed by a number of drama students from Bradford College. It concentrated on the physical and mental pain that is caused by child abuse and domestic violence and looked to explore issues around mental health.

The performance also highlighted the need to admit when something is wrong and that needing help is not a sign of weakness. As soon as you are able to admit needing help, you can then focus on surrounding yourself with the right people who can give you the right kind of support. This message really highlighted the importance of safeguarding individuals.

Leadership in safeguarding

The key note speech that followed was made by Nazir Afzal, the Chief Executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners for England and Wales. The main theme of his speech focussed on how important strong leadership is in safeguarding and how, as a leader, it is crucial you are able to inspire your workforce. Nazir explained how, through his leadership, he was able to identify issues and make them noteworthy. A particular example he spoke of was his work around modern slavery, an issue he was able to gain £8 million of funding for so that the problem could be tackled.

Nazir also talked about the constant difficulty of having to cope with problems that had never previously existed, with a particular emphasis on how it affects budgets. Over the last year, he stated that there had been approximately 200,000 child victims of sexual abuse. This had led to 70,000 police investigations into the issue, at a cost of £1 billion. By 2020, it is estimated that there would be 200,000 investigations costing £3 billion. The way to combat this is prevention, and this starts with strong leadership from the top.

Nazir emphasised about how the tick-box process, introduced after the Baby P case, does not help children nor prevent further cases of CSE. The year after this there were more children killed than ever before and an increased number of social workers left the profession. Nazir stated that a blame culture doesn’t work and instead workers should be given support and encouraged to work to their highest potential rather than worry about being blamed for something going wrong. To truly help those who have been affected by CSE, the culprits need to be prosecuted and support given to the victims.

1001 days

The following discussion was led by ‘Better Start Bradford’, a group that consisted of parents talking about their experiences of parenthood, and why the first 1001 days of a baby’s life are so important. It is during this time that babies form crucial relationships with their caregivers and, if these are not formed properly, it can seriously effect brain development.

To give parents the best chance to form bonds with their new born babies, they need support. This is especially important if a mother doesn’t have a family unit to help her. One mother spoke of how she built a very strong relationship with her midwife and stated that, without her support, she would have struggled severely to cope with motherhood.

Real safeguarding stories

Chris Simes from Collingwood Learning gave the subsequent presentation and explained how he uses theatre, based on real case studies, to deliver engaging safeguarding training. This year he said their new focus was on making videos of people speaking about the issues they’ve faced, so that lessons can be learned from their stories of how to support victims of different types of abuse. Chris then showed a video entitled ‘Michael’s story’, a powerful video that highlighted the difficulties that male victims of domestic abuse face.

Award presentation

The event closed with Virtual College presenting an award to Bradford Safeguarding Children’s Board for their ‘outstanding contribution to safeguarding training’. The recognition of Bradford’s contribution to safeguarding was part of a wider celebration of the 10th anniversary of Virtual College’s Safeguarding e-Academy, an event which can be further explored here.

This award presentation was then quickly followed by Paul Hill cutting a ceremonial cake to celebrate 5 years of Bradford’s Safeguarding Week, an event which has grown in stature each year it has taken place.


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