Safeguarding is about making sure everyone is free from harm, harassment, bullying, abuse and neglect. It’s also about being ready to respond safely and well if there is a problem

The Coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak is having an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the nations population, in the main, is indoors.

We may be familiar with Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adult protocols while at work, in our faith-based/community groups, volunteering, at school/college and elsewhere. Our understanding is based on the signs of abuse and reporting to Safeguarding Leads, following the given established policy guidelines for all organisations.

In these unprecedented times of self-isolation, these protocols can only partly address our safe-guarding needs. The signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect remain the same, but may be hidden from public view due to isolation.

The reporting mechanisms may change due to office closures and home-working. Flagging safeguarding concerns and enabling appropriate support, may come through concerned friends, family, neighbours and through self- referrals from victims of abuse. Children and vulnerable adults already known to authorities continue to be at risk, but now without the ‘usual’ human support mechanisms.

With sustained periods of anxiety, financial worry, fear of infection and the potential fracturing of already strained relationships, in close quarters- quarantine can make for the perfect storm - Domestic violence, coercive control and other forms of psychological abuse, neglect, bullying, financial abuse…

Evidence from UNICEF and the UN following the outbreak of infectious disease and quarantine in previous epidemics (COVID-19 in China; and Ebola in West Africa and Congo), draw lessons which we may benefit from. They highlight a threefold increase in violence against women and girls, an increase in litigation/ divorce when the semblance of normality prevails and the increased occurrence of mental ill health resulting from self-isolation. 

There is no blueprint for “Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults: COVID-19” in the community setting or any other. As this pandemic and its aftermath runs its course, lessons will be learned, responses and reactions will evolve.

On pages below, we provide some guidance to community members, organisations and voluntary groups serving the community in the difficult days ahead.This content has been drawn from various government, statutory and voluntary agencies and includes:
What is child protection and safeguarding?   
What does safeguarding for vulnerable adults mean
Top 10 considerations as we self-isolate and/or volunteer   
Domestic Abuse, Gender Based Violence & Coercive Control
Useful links for support and information
Please, click on the links above to access our guidance and share this as widely as possible.

What should I do if I suspect someone is being abused?

 “Safety and Security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free from violence and fear” Nelson Mandela

          
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