The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Board recognises that the COVID-19 virus is putting increasing pressure on all services providing support to children, young people, adults at risk and families. In this changing landscape safeguarding continues to be a priority, however we recognise that we will all have to develop ways of doing things differently.
Government guidance may change over the coming days and weeks so please make sure you are kept informed and up to date with any new advice or guidance being produced, and adjust your ways of working as appropriate. We will update this page as more information is made available.
As practitioners we need to consider how we can maintain appropriate contact with the children, young people, adults at risk and families we work with, provide support at this difficult time as well as maintain business as usual as much as possible.
Please follow your own agency’s contingency plans for providing services, however in what may be challenging circumstances we would remind practitioners to:
- Speak to families regarding any difficulties they may be experiencing due to spending more time together than usual, and signpost to where they can receive additional support. Help them to regulate their stress responses and recognise the emotional impact this is having on society.
- Remain vigilant for the signs and indicators of abuse, including neglect and domestic violence, and raise any safeguarding concerns in line with your agency’s procedures.
- If you are using alternative methods such as social media and technology to keep in contact with children, young people and families, remember to do this in line with your agency’s policies and in a safe and appropriate manner.
We would like to reiterate the Government and NHS guidelines about maintaining good hygiene: only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, and stay two metres away from other people outside of your household.
It is particularly important for people who are aged over 70 and/or have an underlying health condition.
For further information, click on the headings below:
Joint communication from the from the Department for Education, on behalf of the Home Office and the Department for Health and Social Care, and the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel sets out the expectations on the statutory safeguarding partners in relation to serious incident notifications, rapid reviews, serious case reviews and child safeguarding practice reviews in light of coronavirus.
In light of the current situation, with immediate effect, our Multi-Agency Support Group (MASG) panels will be run virtually. Requests for cases to be heard at panel will continue as normal. Agendas will be sent out as normal but the meeting itself will be held virtually. MASG panel members will be asked to engage in the meeting via the Office 365 ‘Teams’ app. Referrers will not be required to attend the meeting. Instead, the MASG co-ordinator will contact you prior to the meeting for the most up to date information from your perspective. The outcome of the discussion will be recorded on EHM, and once authorised you will be notified of this in the usual way.
Early Help telephone line
We are anticipating it may be difficult for us to access the voicemail messages from our early help helpline telephone number. We are continuing to answer the telephone whilst staff are in the office, but if your call goes to answerphone, please do not leave a message. Instead, send an email to email@example.com providing details of your enquiry and someone will get back to.
We are constantly reviewing practice under COVID-19 conditions, and responding appropriately as the situation changes. With this in mind, we are making some further changes to the running of statutory meetings during this time.
For all meetings:
- All participants, including parents/carers with PR can now dial in to virtual Skype or Teams for the following:
- Initial and Review CP conferences (*with some exceptions)
- Core Groups
- Child in Care Reviews (if normally involved)
- Child in Need meetings
- PLO meetings
- Parents will be given the option to join the virtual meeting, or give their views prior to the meeting and get feedback after the meeting.
- At the beginning of the meeting, the chair of any of the above meetings must ask parents/carers the following questions and state responses on the minutes of the meeting:
- Can you confirm you are alone in the room you are calling in from?
- If you are not alone, can you confirm who the other person/people is? If possible, can they leave the room?
- Do you understand that this meeting is strictly confidential, and that no information can be shared outside the meeting?
- Can you confirm that you are not recording this meeting?
- At the point that these assurances are sought and recorded on the minutes, the meeting can continue. Professionals should also ensure they are calling in from a confidential environment.
Preparation before the meeting
- The lead professional/chair of the meeting will prepare parents/carers for the meeting in advance, explaining about our expectations of confidentiality.
- Social workers will continue to risk assess and exclude a parent where there is a risk of violence (e.g. domestic abuse, honour-based violence, etc.).
- If it is not appropriate for a parent/carer to join a virtual meeting for any other reason, workers must discuss with their line manager or the chair of the meeting.
- For an ICPC/RCPC, the social worker should ascertain if the parent/carer requires a formal advocate or interpreter. If this is the case, then the ICPC/RCPC will remain a face to face meeting, and the worker should discuss this with the Chair as soon as possible.
- Social workers will gain an email address for parents/carers, and a correct phone number, and check they both work.
- Social workers or the Chair should ascertain if parents can connect to the meeting via Skype or Teams, using guidance provided and avoiding any cost to parents. If parents do not have access to the internet, the social worker/Chair should discuss how parents’ views can be shared and feedback given.
- The worker will test a Skype or Teams meeting with the parent first to ensure that the process works smoothly.
- Professionals will continue to share reports with parents/carers before the meeting in the usual way.
During the meeting
- For ICPC and RCPCs, the Chair will invite parents to a virtual pre-meeting 15 minutes before Conference, ideally using video and audio feed.
- The Chair will consider using video feed for the initial introductions, confidentiality statement and to ascertain that all participants appear to be in an appropriate setting.
- The Chair will make it explicit with parents/carers that if it is believed that they are recording or streaming the meeting, or a third party is listening in and breaching confidentiality that the meeting will be suspended and the parent contacted separately outside of the meeting.
- The Chair will suggest that participants mute their microphones when they are not talking, to decrease ‘noise’ on the call.
- At the end of the virtual meeting, all participants should remember to ‘hang up’ the call properly and ensure the call has ended to avoid any casual conversations being shared with all.
After the meeting
- Minutes will include the confidentiality statements and parents/carers responses to them.
- Minutes will be circulated via secure email where possible.
- SMART plan will be circulated within 24 hours.
* ICPC/RCPCs where a parent requires an interpreter or formal advocate
- The CP Chair, SW or TM and minute taker will attend the venue for the ICPC/RCPC in person
- Parents with PR and their interpreter or formal advocate will be invited to attend the ICPC/RCPC at the designated venue in person if not excluded.
- The CP Chair will continue to call parents/carers to ask if they are self-isolating and if they have any symptoms of the Coronavirus – if parents answer yes to any of these questions they will be asked not to attend and be given the option to dial in.
- All partner agencies will continue to dial into the ICPC/RCPC.
Click on the images below to view our presentations on Safeguarding
During the COVID-19 crisis, it is particularly important to safeguard adults with care and support needs. They may be more vulnerable to abuse and neglect as others may seek to exploit disadvantages due to age, disability, mental or physical impairment or illness.
the Social Care Institute for Excellence has published advice on Safeguarding Adults during Covid-19 crisis https://www.scie.org.uk/care-providers/coronavirus-covid-19/safeguarding-adults
This guidance concerns the impact of COVID-19 on the use of the Mental Health Act and supporting systems to safeguard the legal rights of people receiving mental health, learning disabilities and specialised commissioned mental health services.
A network of COVID-19 Co-ordination and Response Hubs has been launched across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The countywide hub is focussed on supporting residents who have been identified as shielding and being of the highest risk – and who have no reliable support networks. It will make sure that critical services across the public sector, such as care for the elderly, can continue through the support of staff who have been redeployed from other council services and partner organisations and the support of volunteers. This work includes ensuring our most vulnerable residents have access to food, medicines and other important supplies, as well as ensuring broader social needs are met as far as possible, to minimise anxiety.
The district and city hubs will provide more local support, for residents across their communities and will respond to individual offers of help or requests for support. They will also connect with and support mutual aid and other community-led initiatives. Working closely with the countywide hub, they will also respond to individual requests for help and offers of assistance that fall outside the scope of the support being offered to those who are identified as being of the highest risk.
MEMBERS of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP) are warning people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to be vigilant against scammers who are taking advantage of Covid-19.
As Covid-19 spreads rapidly across the world, various reports have emerged about fraudsters seizing the opportunity to defraud.
Many of the scams involve criminals contacting victims by email, phone or text message posing as genuine organisations such as banks, police officers or health providers. The fraudsters may claim to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to transfer and keep money – using coronavirus as a cover story. Alternatively, victims are tricked into disclosing personal or financial information or clicking on links which could contain malware.
In Cambridgeshire, doorstep scammers are reported to have been visiting residents purporting to be from Red Cross or other legitimate organisations, and offering to provide coronavirus testing kits – for a hefty fee.
Some examples of other coronavirus scams to watch out for are:
- Flight cancellation scam. If you have had a holiday cancelled, beware of individuals or organisations making contact asking for bank details to refund your money. Your travel agent or airline should refund directly by the original payment method.
- Fake email or website scams. Watch out for authentic looking websites or emails seemingly from official channels such as Public Health England or WHO (World Health Organisation). These may look very convincing and offer enticing information for a fee or a single click on a link or attachment. Clicking may install malicious software which can monitor the victim’s every move and provide the details to criminals. Recent examples include e-mails or websites claiming to be able to show local cases of Covid-19 but which are in fact designed to infect the victim’s computer with malware to steal banking and log-in information.
- Online offers for vaccinations. There are currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, prescriptions or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Covid-19 coronavirus. DO NOT send money, buy bitcoin or vouchers to anyone offering this.
- Bogus charity callers. Fraudsters may pose as charitable organisations claiming to help individuals or businesses in these challenging times. Check the authenticity of any caller on the phone or doorstep by contacting the organisation on the number you know to be correct. If the caller was on the phone make sure you wait at least 10 minutes or use a different handset to conduct your authenticity check.
- Tax refund scam. E-mails purporting to be from HMRC or GOV.UK are being sent by scammers with the promise of a tax rebate ‘for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak’ at the click of a link. The link is likely to infect the device with malware and allow private information to be stolen.
- Good Neighbour scam. People in self-isolation have been approached by criminals offering to help with shopping who take the resident’s money and never return.
The NSPCC has created a new webpage with information and advice for parents or carers who are worried a child or young person may be struggling with their mental health or has anxiety about Coronavirus. The webpage includes information on: talking about feelings and worries; keeping in touch and balancing screen time; ways to create structure and routine; and helping to give children a sense of control.
Read the information and advice: Talking to a child worried about coronavirus (COVID-19)
A free information book explaining the coronavirus to children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler has been published and can be downloaded here http://ow.ly/qbx850z8wP2
With children spending more time online to do school work or occupy themselves while parents and carers are busy, they face an increased threat from offenders who are also online in greater numbers.
A host of informative, educational products aimed at children of all ages, parents, carers and teachers will be issued through the agency’s Thinkuknow website and social media channels. The activities are easily incorporated into home schooling.
The agency is also releasing Covid19 specific content through Parent Info, a news feed and website the NCA runs with digital family experts Parent Zone.
The following information has been provided by our colleagues at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership, for more information, please visit their website https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/
The IDVAs are working remotely and doing telephone meetings with clients and are still accepting referrals, including MARAC referrals
For information on how to refer please visit https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/website/referral_forms/296136
You can email the Duty IDVA firstname.lastname@example.org
Outreach support is still being offered, again this is by telephone
Cambridge City/East Cambs/South Cambs – Cambridge Women’s Aid 01223 361214 www.cambridgewa.org.uk
Fenland/Hunts/Peterborough – Refuge 07787 255821
The ISVA Service is also still working with clients by ‘phone
The Elms SARC is still open for victims of sexual violence https://www.theelmssarc.org/ Or call 01480 425003
Women’s Aid Safety and Support Resources
Support for professionals
The Social Care Institute for Excellence have a guide for Domestic Violence and Abuse: Safeguarding during Covid-19 crisis
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have produced the following briefing – COVID-19 and violence against women What the health sector/system can do
The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) have a number of leaflets for children and young people which can be accessed below
During times of uncertainty, we can feel anxious and stressed. Feelings of isolation, boredom and loneliness are natural. It’s important we look after our mental health as well as our physical health.
Our colleagues at Keep Your Head brings together reliable information on mental health and wellbeing for children, young people and adults across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Below are some tips on how to look after your mental health
Stay in touch with friends and family to support mental health. The simplest thing we can do for mental wellbeing is to stay connected. Use the internet, telephone, even written letters, to reach out. Lift each other’s spirits by speaking and listening.
Connect online with others who are experiencing the same feelings. Online communities are an increasingly popular source of support.
Qwell is an online community for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Find self-help resources and join in peer support through chat. You can also access safe and confidential one-hour sessions with a fully qualified counsellor via instant messaging.
Kooth is a free, confidential and anonymous online service for young people aged 11-18 years. Access support from trained counsellors until 10pm, 365 days a year. Peer-to-peer support through forums and a range of self-help resources.
If you need a listening ear. Lifeline Plus is a new helpline for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Trained staff can discuss issues affecting mood and wellbeing during this time, or signpost to other sources of support. Call Monday to Friday, 9am-2pm, on 0808 808 2121
Lifeline is a free, confidential and anonymous telephone helpline service available 365 days of the year for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The Line provides listening support and information to someone experiencing mental distress or if you are supporting someone else in distress. Available every day 2pm – 11pm, on 0808 808 2121
Psychological Wellbeing Service – People can continue to self-refer to the Psychological Wellbeing Service. This service is set up to help those aged 17 and over who are suffering from mild to moderate depression and anxiety, you don’t need a diagnosis to access the service. More information can be found here.
Call 111 in a mental health crisis, if you, or someone you are worried about, is at risk of harm, the NHS First Response Services can help people of any age, at any time of day or night. Call 111 and select option 2.
Other self-help resources can be found at https://www.keep-your-head.com/adults/MH/who-else-can-help-me
The following links may also be useful:-
The Money and Pensions Service have added two pages to our website which will be constantly monitored and updated which will provide direct guidance to the public about money in general and then more specific financial guidance and actions that people can take to help themselves.
Modern slavery is a harmful and hidden crime and its victims may be especially isolated and hidden from view during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Help and support is available for victims of modern slavery. This guidance sets out what modern slavery is, how to recognise the indicators of modern slavery and how to refer suspected cases of modern slavery to the appropriate services.
The Lullaby Trust have put together some advice for caring for babies during the Covid-19 outbreak
COVID-19 – guiding principles for safeguarding partnerships during the pandemic from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)