Released: 20 January, 2021
Safeguarding partnerships across Sussex are asking workers with access to people’s homes to help spot possible child abuse and neglect this lockdown.
Local authorities including West Sussex County Council and police across Sussex have joined forces with the NSPCC to encourage workers to take free training to help protect children from abuse.
During the pandemic, children and young people have spent much more time at home and behind closed doors, meaning that some children have been at a greater risk of abuse and neglect.
The NSPCC has found that concerns about child abuse have soared since national lockdown measures were first introduced – with the average monthly number of referrals from the charity’s helpline to local authorities on the issue increasing by 81 per cent in the South East.
The NSPCC, West Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership (of which West Sussex County Council is a lead member), safeguarding partnerships in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove and Sussex Police have united to promote safeguarding children awareness training for workers who regularly go into people’s homes. This includes postal workers, delivery drivers, housing maintenance staff, gas engineers, taxi drivers and local authority workers.
They are telling people in Sussex, if they see something, say something.
Detective Superintendent Jon Hull of Sussex Police, speaking on behalf of Community Safety Partnerships across Sussex said: “Right now we know that some children in Sussex and nationally are at an increased risk of abuse including sexual abuse, neglect and domestic violence.
“People who work within their community can play an important role in helping keep children safe and spotting possible signs of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence.
“If you are still working with members of the public, taking the NSPCC’s free, quick training course could mean a child does not have to suffer needlessly during this lockdown. If you see something, say something.”
The NSPCC’s 15-minute interactive e-learning course, ‘It’s your call’ will help workers to:
• recognise the signs of possible child abuse and neglect
• report concerns either through your work channels, the NSPCC helpline or, if the concern is urgent, the police
• support those who may have already witnessed signs of child abuse and provide advice
The training is currently free until 31st March, 2021, aimed at people who are well placed to spot any emerging safeguarding concerns or signs of possible abuse and neglect in homes.
It can be accessed on the NSPCC website or by searching ‘NSPCC It’s Your Call’ online.
Ciara* from Brighton, had a chaotic upbringing with a mum who had substance misuse problems and suffered with bi-polar disorder. Ciara said: “There was so much shame attached to it all, I was always scared of being ‘found out’. She’d frequently leave us in harm’s way, or abandon us when she was prioritising the men, drink or drugs.
“I would compare our home life to my friends and I knew it wasn’t right. I felt responsible for my sister, I felt responsible for my mum and responsible for the way she was perceived by others. That’s a lot for a child to cope with. It affected my confidence – I was trying to survive but worrying about everyone else around me.
“I don’t think it’s that unusual for children to go through this kind of thing, but it’s rarely spoken about.”
The various Safeguarding Children Partnerships in Sussex are also hoping to raise community awareness about the increased risk to children, by using NSPCC resources, including posters and wallet cards promoting the NSPCC helpline for adults and Childline for children.
Anna Collishaw-Nikodemus, NSPCC local campaigns manager for Sussex, said: “We are so pleased that Brighton & Hove Community Safety Partnership, Sussex Police, alongside West Sussex districts and boroughs and the three Sussex safeguarding children partnerships have made the growing threat of child abuse and neglect a priority in this incredibly challenging time.”
“Since April, the NSPCC Helpline has received over 31,000 contacts from adults anxious about child abuse or neglect. The monthly average number of contacts has surged 43 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“It is essential that we all play our role in helping to keep children and young people safe. Workers visiting people’s homes during the pandemic have the unique opportunity to see or hear things that others may not. Therefore, it is important that they feel confident in knowing what to do if they are concerned about a child.”
If you see something that concerns you about a child, please say something
The West Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership is continuing to promote the simple message to every West Sussex resident - if you see something that raises a concern about a child, please say something by:
- Reporting it to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01403 229900. Trained professionals from police, children’s services and health are on hand to offer advice and act where needed.
- If you think a child is at immediate risk, call police on 999.
- Adults concerned about a child can also contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Children can speak to a counsellor on 0800 1111 or chat online at www.childline.org.uk