The International Centre in 2016

Helen Beckett, Director of the Centre, reflects on our work over the last year…

2016 has been a busy year and, as with life generally, we can get so caught up in the ‘doing’ that we fail to recognise all that has been achieved. Writing this blog has been great as it has forced me to stop and reflect – with great pride – on the work of our team this year. In a few paragraphs I can’t possibly do justice to all the great work that our team has done over the last year so let me start by saying that I am genuinely blessed to manage such an amazing team of staff who are both dedicated to, and passionate about, their work – and publicly record my thanks and appreciation for all they do.

And speaking of appreciation….I’m sure most of you know that the wonderful Jenny Pearce stepped down from her position as Director of the Centre in the summer. Whilst we are so sorry to lose Jenny from this role, we are delighted – and immensely relieved! – that she continues to work with the Centre and will continue to be a critical source of support, encouragement and inspiration.

2016 has seen lots of busy staff achieving lots of great things that we hope contribute to our vision to improve understanding of, and enhance responses to, CSE and other forms of sexual violence and abuse. Some examples of what has been going on below:

Working with young people


A particularly exciting part of our CSE and Policing Knowledge Hub work was a residential in October where police and young people came together to look at how police responses to young people affected by CSE and related issues could be improved. The young people and police officers then jointly presented their ideas to an audience of over fifty police reps at a research forum in November, and work is now ongoing on the creation of outputs that can be shared more widely.

This year also saw the establishment of a Centre Advisory Board made up of young people. Whilst we have been working with project-specific youth advisory groups for many years now, this group has a more general remit to contribute to the Centre strategy. They will help ensure that young people’s voices are at its core, inform our research agenda, improve the way we involve children and young people in our work and help us disseminate our findings.

Supporting policy and practice

contextual-safeguardingDisseminating the learning from our work to practice was a key programme of work in 2016. Staff continued to present at conferences on a regular basis and to develop outputs for practice. The MsUnderstood programme released their site report and practice resources on peer on peer abuse. The CSE and Policing Knowledge Hub, Alexi and Our Voices projects launched new websites in the early part of the year. The Contextual Safeguarding Network was launched in the autumn. Any UK practitioners can join this network for free and learn more about how to safeguard children in extra-familial contexts such as schools, peer groups and public spaces.

A number of different reports were launched over the last year; all of which are available from our website. These include:

  • A set of resources on peer on peer abuse from the MsUnderstood programme
  • A literature review on young people’s participation in CSE services
  • Evaluations of Barnardo’s Nightwatch programme and Victim Support’s Adult Survivors programme.
  • A report for HMIC on children and young people’s perspectives on police responses to safeguarding concerns

This year also saw us support the Scottish government to develop a new definition of CSE, and write their accompanying briefing paper for practice. We were also commissioned to draft the forthcoming new CSE guidance for England with Research in Practice – this is expected for release in early 2017.

Teaching and training

The two Masters programmes run by Centre staff – the  MA International social work and social development and MA Childhood and Youth – both saw a doubling of student numbers this year. Masters and doctoral students had the opportunity to take part in an exchange programme with Gothenburg University, as part of a wider partnership of work developed gothenburgby the Centre. New professional doctorate students joined our research community, and we were delighted to see our colleague Fiona obtain her doctorate through this programme – well done Dr Factor! Demand for our short course teaching continued to increase, with our 5 day Masters accredited programme delivered five times over the year to a wide range of professionals including social workers, youth workers, police and health care workers.

That’s just a flavour of what’s been going on – and of course we could not do it all without your support. Thanks to all the children and young people, parents/carers and professionals who have worked with us through 2016 to make our work what it is – here’s to another impactful year in 2017!