Introducing a Contextual Safeguarding Resource for Young People!

Artwork by Meera Shakti Osborne

Blog written by Evie Poingdestre (YRAP member). 

As part of the Youth Research Advisory Panel work we’ve been supporting the development of participatory streams of work in the Contextual Safeguarding teams at the University of Bedfordshire and University of Durham.  

One of the things we’ve discussed many times is that lots of young people don’t really know what safeguarding is, let alone what contextual safeguarding is. To help the development of Contextual Safeguarding and support a positive impact with the children and young people it is aiming to support we (YRAP) have developed a resource for young people. 

The main aim of the resource is to help professionals have discussions about harm outside the home and introduce Contextual Safeguarding approaches to young people.  This resource also has tips and advice for young people and a section where they can write down their own reflections about their safety in different contexts. 

Developing the resource: 

We discussed as a group what safeguarding means to us and why it is so important for young people to have an active voice in the decisions regarding their safety. Gaining a deeper understanding on what safeguarding means to individuals within YRAP helped us gain a well-rounded view of the key areas we believe are important for contextual safeguarding.  

Artwork by Meera Shakti Osborne

 We also considered what happens in different contexts, thinking about who can aid in safeguarding within the young person’s life. We reflected that it is everyone’s responsibility to be involved in safeguarding children. If young people can aid with detecting warning signs, looking after their friends and talking to their safe adult, this can be very powerful.    

We also acknowledged that the safe adult may not always be a family member, talking to a safe adult is very important and not always the person social services want the child to be talking to.  Their safe person may be for example, a teacher, a friend, social worker or a friend’s parent.  

We think it’s really important to ensure that safety isn’t entirely taken out of the child or young person’s hands, leaving them confused and scared. We’ve thought about things we wish people like social workers, teachers, key workers, friends and so on in our lives might have done differently.  

Artwork by Meera Shakti Osborne

We hope that working through this resource can help make sure that the child has an active part in their safety and planning.  

The vision!

Our vision is that the resource will be filled out by the child with help from their safe adult to help think through safety in different spaces. This pack will then be part of their own personal care package with lots of information about their context and ways that others can support them in making them feel safe and protected.  

Having an artist make our vision come to life gives it a personal touch! We understand that as young people when we are handed a piece of paper or a pack and it doesn’t feel relatable, accessible or (frankly!) looks quite boring and corporate it is hard to feel like you are being understood and it’s difficult to engage with the information you are being given.  

Working with Meera

With the help of Hannah, we found the work of Meera Shakti Osborne. Meera’s art is powerful and depicts people of all walks of life, we wanted the young people to see themselves in the design and relate to it. We had a great time working with them to develop and give feedback on a design for the resource.  

Evie Poingdestre (YRAP member) and Elsie Whittington

This resource booklet has been developed with the YRAP (Young Researcher’s Advisory Panel), in the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire and designed by Meera Shakti Osborne @mso_4art. 

It is available to freely download, print and share.  

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Guide to CS digital Version