Covid-19: Help us keep children safe from abuse and neglect
Within Gloucestershire, systems are in place to ensure children already known to Children’s Services are protected, but, now more than ever it’s important that communities and neighbours are looking out for each other where possible, and if a family needs some additional help in these unprecedented times, they should contact our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) as soon as possible so we can help.
During the lockdown we are all spending more time at home self isolating or social distancing, but some children may be at a greater risk of abuse, neglect and household adversity.
Keeping children safe and protecting them from harm is our top priority. While schools are being kept open for vulnerable children, we know that children living in homes where they’re at risk of abuse and neglect can effect their physical and mental health and wellbeing in the future so it is important that we act now.
We are asking everyone to play their part and report any concerns they have about a child’s safety or welfare.
Report a concern
If you are concerned about a child, please contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01452 426565 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If a child is at immediate risk ring the Police on 999.
The Children and Families Services helpdesk is open between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
To report a concern outside of these hours, please contact the Emergency Duty Team on 01452 614194.
This is an answering machine and you will need to leave a message and your telephone number. Someone will then call you back. Please remember that this number is only for situations that cannot wait until the next working day.
Please note: The NSPCC have also recently launched a campaign to encourage you to raise any concerns you have about the safety of a child. If you contact the NSPCC, they will send information to our children's services so we can follow up.
Spot the signs
Social distancing and self isolating is difficult for everyone and it can cause a lot of stress and changes to people’s behaviour. Right now, it is even more difficult to spot the signs of abuse or neglect and it can be difficult to know for sure if something is happening at home.
People do not always report their concerns because they’re not certain of the signs, don’t know where to report, or are worried about being wrong. This means that our local children’s social care teams could be missing out on vital information they need to keep children safe from harm.
Abuse and neglect is always wrong and should always be reported.
Some of the signs you may spot include:
- aggressive or repeated shouting
- hearing hitting or things being broken
- children crying for long periods of time
- very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
- children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
- children being withdrawn or anxious.
If you spot these signs it doesn’t necessarily mean a child is being abused or neglected but by raising your concerns you can make sure that children are safe and families are getting the support they need at the earliest opportunity rather than leaving it too late.
With it being more difficult to physically see children and families, it’s important that we are socially connected
- Checking – in and interacting regularly on the phone is key. Taking the time to listen to what is happening at home can really help us understand the context and build the picture.
- Video call – having face to face contact allows you to have a personal conversation, see what their behaviours is like, how are they acting. By doing this it gives you a better chance at spotting anything that’s wrong.
- Ask questions – how they are feeling emotionally, do they feel safe, talk about their day, what did they enjoy? What is life like at home?
- Parents and carers need support too so talk to them. Ask them if they are okay, how they are finding things, do they have any concerns.
Support for parents
To help support families, the council have set up a parent advice line. The advice line offers confidential advice, guidance and emotional support on any aspect of parenting and family life. If you need support, please contact the advice line on 0800 542 02 02.
Alternatively, send a message through our Facebook page – just search for Family Information Service – Gloucestershire. They will listen and give you the space to talk, helping you to explore your situation and find a way forward.
- There is a lot of support out there for parents and you can find more information and resources on our website
- The NSPCC has more information on spotting the signs of abuse and how you can support children
Information and resources about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
ACEs are traumatic events that affect children while growing up, such as suffering child maltreatment or living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness.