Paul is our Principal Social Worker and Head of Service for Quality Assurance at Somerset County Council. He came to us as a Service Manager in 2009 and has been here ever since, having had the rare privilege of working in all four areas of the county.
Here he talks about our recent annual Somerset Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) Conference.
“The annual SSCB conference took place in April – we saw fantastic engagement across a wide range of Somerset partners, from schools, health partners, voluntary agencies and of course social workers.
The conference highlighted how we understand and address contextual safeguarding issues across Somerset. The county can sometimes be seen as a sleepy backwater, but we know that Somerset is increasingly being targeted by county lines drug dealing activity, and where there is drug dealing, we know that adults and children will suffer exploitation as a result.
We were lucky to have two nationally renowned key note speakers presenting; Dez Holmes from RiP (Research in Practice) and Dr Carlene Firmin from the Contextual Safeguarding Network. Dez talked with great humour and eloquence about how we understand adolescent vulnerability and work with it rather than against it. Dr Firmin, as a key leader in the field was able to share the journey that she has been on to develop her theory of contextual safeguarding, and support practitioners to work meaningfully with young people to keep them safe.
We also had an eye-opening presentation from two ex Police officers about gang culture in London and how young people can be quickly dragged in to a nightmarish world of abuse and exploitation. Social media was a common thread amongst presenters and reminds us that we must fully understand how our young people view and use social media as a key part of their lived experience.
Some of our amazing staff at SCC contributed to workshops on the day. Specialist social worker for child exploitation Jess King led a practice workshop and Operations Manager Cathy Jones and Consultant Social Worker Andy Gibson talked to delegates about how we can use Barry Mason’s safe uncertainly model to understand risk and work safely with children in risky situations.
All in all, a highly informative day, bookended by the recorded voices of young people talking about their feelings and thoughts in a deeply personal manner. Thanks go to Kate Greenwood at the Somerset Safeguarding Board for pulling the conference together.
SCCB link and Twitter feed
https://sscb.safeguardingsomerset.org.uk/ on Twitter @somersetSCB
Dez Holmes, Director of Research In Practice – find her on Twitter @dez_holmes
and more about her here https://www.rip.org.uk/about-us/meet-our-team/dez-holmes
Carlene Firmin – find her on Twitter @carlenefirmin
and more about her role as head of Contextual Safeguarding at https://www.contextualsafeguarding.org.uk/