NWG AND SPACE Families as Safeguarding Partners One Year On

Since July 2018, NWG have been working with SPACE and partner agencies to highlight the challenges for professionals working around criminal and wider exploitation, and to recognise how we can work with families who are impacted and affected by this.

Strategic leaders from across a wide number of sectors came together for round table discussion at Parliament led by NWG and SPACE, with the support of Ann Coffey MP. The aim was to identify common themes around families living with criminal exploitation, share emerging practice and to look out how we can build on the learning from CSE through establishing NPIES (National Parents in Exploitation Safeguarding). From this we have developed the National Key Lines of Enquiry, which you can find on the NWG Resources page and SPACE website.

Following on from this NWG and SPACE hosted an event “County Lines - Through the Parents’ Lens” to focus on the areas we highlighted at Parliament. Tickets for this event sold out within days so it’s clear that there is an appetite across the country for developing practice. It was a powerful day hearing from parents directly affected by criminal exploitation and how this has impacted on their families and the community around them. There were also observations from a parent affected by CSE. Presenters from national organisations shared their thoughts, experiences and knowledge to enhance the day further.

We have learnt so much over the years from working alongside victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and their families and we know just how impactful a parent or family members input can be as part of the safeguarding circle. What came out at the event was that we are not always taking this learning into criminal exploitation. We heard from parents who were being excluded from key meetings, who were not feeling listened to about the risks they saw for their child and others in their communities and where opportunities to work alongside them were clearly missed. Exploitation is complex and parents face risks which can be severe and life threatening. It is therefore essential that our response is joined up working alongside families and communities, disrupting perpetrators, creating safer spaces for our families as well as bringing together our wider safeguarding partnerships.

There is some fantastic work out there both at an individual and organisational level that is thinking differently about how we can work together. NWG will strive to share those examples through our website, seminars and training offer so do share what is working well and what has improved outcomes for families so we can all learn together.

With any event it is the reflection and post-event learning, the taking into practice or influencing service delivery that is key to making a difference for families. As this event was so powerful we were keen to measure the impact of the event both on the day but also in a more meaningful way. We asked a number of questions post-event and below are some of the responses.

“Criminal networks move far quicker than safeguarding responses and this leaves exploited people at significant risk of harm or death”

“Parents are not the offenders and should be seen as partners, exploitation affects the whole family”

“Need for more strategic input, innovative ideas on tackling the issues”

“Vulnerability is dynamic and can ebb and flow so any adolescent strategy that is developed needs to acknowledge this”

“Systemic changes, use of language when discussing and advocating for these young people”

“Further insight and knowledge from people who are directly impacted, working with them than against them”

“With CCE… it needs to be clear who is doing what and occupying what space”

“Ensuring key messages are included in our staff training”

As well as the National Key Lines of Enquiry, NWG have developed a package to enhance working alongside families. This includes the NWG’s Parents as Safeguarding Partners benchmarking tool and practical resources: “Making Meetings Matter”, “Supporting Parents to Share Information on CSE” which are available on the NWG website. We have also developed a training course “Working Alongside Families” that puts the voice of families as central to key messages and learning. The benchmarking tool was developed as a self-assessment for organisations to use to develop their work alongside parents affected by CSE. This is now currently being expanded to include wider exploitation and work with families recognising the impact on siblings and family. If you are wanting to develop your service response to working with families affected by exploitation, then the self-assessment tool along with the Key Lines of Enquiry would be a useful starting point. Please contact Maria Cassidy maria@nwgnetwork.org for further information on the benchmarking tool, training around working alongside families or to share your work with families that others can learn from.

The NPIES group will continue to meet in 2020 and any enquiries should be directed to Steve Baguley of NWG steve@nwgnetwork.org or SPACE bespaceaware@aol.co.uk.

We will also continue to share any learning, case studies and emerging practice through the NWG website and NPIES network.

NWG have developed a range of seminars and bespoke training offer around families and exploitation and follow the link here to book onto the accredited “Working alongside Families” one day course https://www.nwgnetwork.org/training/working-alongside-families-experts-by-experience/

NWG are also currently hosting comprehensive CCE training by SPACE and more training is being planned for the future.

Please contact SPACE if you would like to find out more about their work and training around criminal exploitation at bespaceaware@aol.co.uk.