February 2016

Other Courses Being Run By VoiCeS

Please follow the links to find out more...

An Introduction to Safeguarding Children - 16th March, 10am-1pm, Amble

An Awareness of Safeguarding Adults and Children - 13th May, 10am-1pm, Ashington

Measuring Neglect – There’s a New Kid on the Block
  • Neglect is a common factor in serious child abuse cases, where there is often a lack of timely intervention to protect children at risk.
  • Cases can be left to drift when no-one steps back to look at the overall picture of the child's life.
  • Research tells us that practitioners feel there is a lack of agreement around what constitutes child neglect and when professionals should intervene.
  • Helping practitioners to objectively measure neglect and to identify areas where parents need to improve their care should result in better outcomes for children.
The Graded Care Profile scale was developed by Dr Srivastava, a consultant paediatrician in South Yorkshire, to provide practitioners with an objective way of assessing when inadequate care could put a child at risk of harm. It is based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Maslow identified the different types of needs that people have. All these needs must be met for a person to flourish.
By providing a clear, objective framework for evaluating a family's strengths and weaknesses, Graded Care Profile aims to:
  • help professionals manage and monitor their caseloads more effectively
  • direct the right support to the families who need it the most
  • protect more children from neglect.
The assessment can then be used to ensure that parents get the support and help they need to improve the level of care the child receives.
NSPCC are currently evaluating it’s effectiveness and are about to trial version 2 of the scale in local authorities around the country.
 What’s been learnt so far?
  • Graded Care Profile (GCP) can help professionals identify risks and potential harm more effectively. Practitioners said that the tool promotes a child-centred approach and helps make neglect more visible.
  • GCP supports practitioners to develop a constructive working relationship with the family. It does this by identifying parenting strengths as well as weaknesses and by helping parents to understand the practioner's concerns.
  • Practitioners rated the usefulness of GCP highly. On a 5 point scale it was rated as 4 or 5 in over two thirds of cases.
How it Works
Social workers are specially trained to use the tool. They visit families at home to do an assessment, which is a bit like filling in a questionnaire. It's called Graded Care Profile because different aspects of family life are 'graded' on a scale of 1 to 5. Questions are broken down into 4 areas
  • physical, such as quality of food, clothes and health
  • safety, such as how safe the home is and if the child knows about things like road safety
  • love, such as the relationship between the carer and child
  •  esteem, such as if a child is encouraged to learn and if they a praised for doing something good.
Graded Care Profile is designed to be used with families where someone is concerned about the care of a child.
The number of visits needed depends on the family. After all the visits, they put the results together and talk it through with the family.
Click here to listen to a social worker explain how she works with a family using the Graded Care Profile
Female Genital Mutilation -  Free Online Training
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a highly complex form of abuse – I’m sure like me, you think it is unfathomable that any parent would subject their daughter or relative to such a violent practice, which has life-long physical and emotional repercussions. What we can all fail to understand is that the parents who are subjecting their female relatives to FGM think they are doing it for the right reasons – when they are actually making a mistake. 

FGM is a cultural ritual in some communities in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt where shockingly it is believed that not to have a child 'cut' would harm their prospects of marriage and could even make them a bad mother or parent. It is also a gender inequality issue and an attempt by men to control women within the small communities, in which it is practiced.
A recent study revealed that 137,000 women in England and Wales are estimated to be living with the consequences of FGM. To address this issue, the Home Office is championing a proactive approach and has launched this free online FGM training package.
Click here for FGM online training
Prison Ruins Children’s Lives – It’s a Sad Fact
I stumbled upon a workshop last week, whilst I was browsing my Eventbrite app for workshops in the North East. I recommend you download the app if you haven’t already got it, as there are many bright gems of free workshops on offer on a variety of subjects. I’ll be browsing more regularly in future and will post details, if I spot subjects I think you will be interested in either in this newsletter or in the VoiCeS weekly bulletin.
So what was the workshop about?

Run by Barnardos i-HOP (, the 2 hour workshop was offered free to all workers in Northumberland. Around 20 practitioners from the statutory and voluntary sectors attended. It aimed to raise awareness about the impact of parental imprisonment on children and families. It highlighted the ways in which professionals can ensure that these children and families receive the support they need. The presentation was interactive and included a short film made by a mother speaking about the impact of her partner’s imprisonment on her son.
So why should we be concerned about prisoners’ children?
Ten facts you need to know:
  1. More than double the number of children are affected by parental imprisonment than divorce in the family.  Around 200,000 children in England and Wales had a parent in prison at some point in 2009.
  2. The number of women in prison nearly trebled between 1993 and 2005. This has started to slowly reverse, but there are still over 2,000 more women in prison today than there were twenty years ago.
  3. During their time at school an estimated 7% of children experience their father’s imprisonment
  4. It is estimated that more than 17,240 children were separated from their mother in 2010 by imprisonment.
  5. Only 9% of children whose mothers are in prison are cared for by their fathers in their mothers’ absence.
  6. Parental imprisonment approximately trebles the risk for antisocial or delinquent behaviour by their children.
  7. Over half (54%) of prisoners interviewed had children under the age of 18 when they entered prison. The vast majority felt they had let their family down (82%).
  8. 40% of prisoners said that support from their family, and 36% said that seeing their children, would help them stop reoffending in the future.
  9. Women are often held further away from their families, making visiting difficult and expensive. The average distance is 60 miles, but many are held considerably further away.
  10. Two thirds of women sent to prison are mums and over 17,000 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment every year
 Imprisonment has a devastating impact on the life chances of these children, who as a result are more likely to experience homelessness, disruption to their family and home lives, problems at school and local authority care.

Women prisoners are far more likely to be primary carers of children
  • The SPCR survey (Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction) found that six in ten women in prison had (on average two) dependent children.(1)
  • One fifth are lone parents before imprisonment.
  • For eight out of ten children, it’s the first time they have been separated from their mums for more than a day or so. (2)
  • Fewer than one in ten children whose mother is in prison are cared for by their father in her absence.(3)
  • Approximately 40% are cared for by grandparents or other family members, and only 5% remain in their own home.(4)  
A 2011 report highlighted that up to 6,000 children a year are “being forgotten by the state when their mother is sent to prison.” (5)
An earlier study found that 42 women held in HMP Holloway had no idea who was looking after their children, and that 19 children under the age of 16 were looking after themselves.(6)
(1)  Hansard HC, 16 July 2012 c548W children under the age of 18. See
(2) Paul Vallely (2012) ‘Mothers and Prison: The Lost Generation’, The Independent, 20 September, available at:—prison-the-lost-generation-8157387.html
(3) Prison Reform Trust (2013) Prison: the facts – Bromley Briefing Summer 2013 London: PRT
(4) Prison Advice and Care Trust (2011) Protecting the Welfare of Children When a Parent is Imprisoned: A Report
Highlighting Concerns that up to 6,000 Children a Year are Being Forgotten by the System When Their Mother is Sent to
Prison London: PACT
(5) Ibid
(6) Research by the Revolving Doors Agency at HMP Holloway reported in Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Taskforce (2009)
Short study on women offenders: Making government work better London: MoJ
Abuse of Older People

Any older person can potentially become a victim of elder abuse and people can be abused in many different ways. In 1993 Action on Elder Abuse established the following definition of elder abuse. This has been subsequently adopted by the World Health Organisation: ‘A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person’.

It has at its heart the ‘expectation of trust’ that an older person may rightly establish with another person, but which is subsequently violated.

What happens and who is involved?
Any older person can potentially become a victim of elder abuse, which it why is important to consider ways to self-protect. People can be abused in many different ways, and the five most common types of abuse: physical, psychological, financial, sexual abuse and neglect. Often these abuses are also crimes.

Abuse can occur anywhere
Both older men and women can be at risk of being abused, and this can potentially happen wherever they live or visit. This may include: someone’s own home, in a carer’s home, in a day centre, in a residential home, in a nursing home, or in a hospital.

The key issue is not about where someone lives or visits, but about whether or not the opportunity exists for another to abuse the relationship of trust and exploit or harm them.

This is why it is important to think in advance about ways in which someone can reduce the possibility of abuse, by avoiding isolation or dependency, and by having more than one person keeping an eye on matters. Reliance on others does not mean having to be dependent on others, Thinking about self-protection is more about commonsense than about being distrustful.

The victims
Both older men and women can be at risk of being abused. The Prevalence Study in 2007, which was undertaken following representations by AEA, indicated that 4% of older people (both men and women) experienced abuse in their own homes – at least 342,000 people. When this data was adjusted to include every instance of abuse the percentage figure rose to 8.6%.

The abuser is often well known to the person being abused. They may be: a partner, child or relative, a friend or neighbour, a paid or volunteer care worker, a health or social worker, or other professional.  Older people may also be abused by a person they care for.

Understanding abuse
Often, the people who abuse older people are exploiting a special relationship. They are in a position of trust or have created an expectation of trust, whether through family bonds, friendship or through a paid caring role, and they exploit that trust.

In the experience of The Action on Elder Abuse helpline, most financial abuse is perpetrated by family members, often sons and daughters, who will often seek to justify their actions e.g. by claiming that they are taking their inheritance ‘a bit early’.

Sometimes however abuse is not intentional. It can be because someone lacks the skills or external support necessary to adequately care for another person. We call this ‘passive abuse’ because it is unintentional. That does not mean that the impact on the older person is any less, but it can help us to understand how best to address the abuse.

What do I do if I am concerned about an older person?
As a Designated Person for Safeguarding, if you are concerned about an older person at risk, you should call adult services on 01670 536400 to make an alert.  At weekends and outside office hours, contact the emergency duty team on 03456 005252.
New Research into Domestic Abuse Aimed at Humans and Companion Animals
Do you work with the LGBT community?

Sunderland University and Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, are developing research exploring LGBT human and companion animal relationships including experiences of violence and abuse aimed at humans and companion animals. The project aims to better understand the value and meaning that LGBT people accord to relationships with animal companions, the impact of animal companions on well-being, in addition to experiences of domestic violence and/or violence against animals.

In order to examine these issues, the two Universities have developed an online survey. Full details about the survey are available on the opening screen of the survey. This research has been approved by the Flinders University Social and Behaviour Research Ethics Committee.
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