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Child safeguarding and neglect subject of conference


Alan Weekes, Shirley Congdon and Robert Strachan

Organisations that work in child safeguarding including abuse and neglect will come together for a conference on Wednesday November 30 at the University of Bradford.

The conference will bring together experts from West Yorkshire Police, the NHS, Bradford Council, education and others and has been organised with the support of Bradford District Safeguarding Children Partnership.

It follows an event held last year at Valley Parade that brought together professionals working to tackle child exploitation from a wide range of organisations, to try to understand the extent of exploitation of the vulnerable across the city.

Safeguarding conference

Dr Samina Karim, from the University of Bradford, and who holds a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to research child protection issues, was present at that conference and a conversation between her and members of West Yorkshire Police who investigate abuse and neglect led to further meetings.

She said: “As we know, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I’m pleased the university has been able to host this event. This is the foundation for building a network that will take this collaborative approach forward, which is essential when we consider how our collective aim is to protect children from harm.”

One of the opportunities identified was the potential for joint training. Another was to enable students to interact with those working in the careers that they wish to pursue.

Chief Insp Alan Weekes, Major Crime Senior Investigating Officer with West Yorkshire Police, said: “One of the benefits of events such as this is the opportunity for people from different organisations to meet and talk. The partnership is grateful to the University for its cooperation. If it is a success, it is hoped it will provide a blueprint for future joint events.”

He added: “West Yorkshire Police officers have delivered a number of inputs to University of Bradford students studying criminology and we are exploring other opportunities for students to develop their knowledge and experience of the criminal justice sector.

“There could be a real benefit for students to be involved in training aimed at practitioners working in the sector that they are aspiring to join. With this in mind, members of the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences and organisations from The Bradford District Safeguarding Children Partnership have put together this event, open to students and professionals.”

Alan Weekes, Shirley Congdon and Robert Strachan

Above: Chief Insp Alan Weekes, Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon and Robert Strachan, head of social care & health at the University

Dr Ruth Skelton, Consultant Paediatrician and Designated Doctor for Child Protection for Bradford, said: “I and other colleagues already run a number of sessions with several university departments around safeguarding. Multi-agency training involving university departments is something we have long talked about, and it is something we are keen to promote.”

The University is supporting the event with its staff and facilities and with the help of student volunteers getting involved in delivering the content. 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon said: “We’re proud to be able to host this event and enable professionals from many organisations to come together to reflect upon their own practice and that of others to enhance understanding of what works well in enhancing the safeguarding of children.

“The University of Bradford is part of the community. We want to improve the lives of people wherever we can - collaborations like this are one way of making that happen.

“Many of our students go on to work in social services, the NHS, the police and other organisations concerned about children’s wellbeing, so in addition to this being an opportunity for professionals from those services to engage with one another, it is also an opportunity for our students to interact with them and gain a deeper understanding of their own career aspirations.”

Speakers will include-

  • Dr Ruth Skelton, Consultant Paediatrician & Designated Doctor for Child Protection and her colleague Dr Frankie Soldani, paediatric dentist Dr Kate Ward.
  • Supt Mark Jessop & Supt Ian Croft, West Yorkshire Police Tactical Firearms Commanders
  • Lyndsey Brown, Head teacher, Oastlers School
  • Zakra Yasin Public Health Specialist (Adversity, Trauma and Resilience Programme Lead), Children and Young People’s Team
  • Det Serg Ricky Scott & Insp Suzanne Gall, West Yorkshire Police Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery Team
  • Zoe King, Service Manager Exploitation and Missing Hub , BMDC – Children's Services
  • Richard Padwell – Superintendent for Neighbourhoods and Partnerships – Bradford District, West Yorkshire Police

Attendance to the conference is also being opened up to students, who will be awarded hours towards their Career Booster Bradford Employability Award.

Additional information

Bradford District Safeguarding Children Partnership is a multi-agency partnership established under the Children Act 2004 and subsequent legislation such as Working Together 2018.

Themes of the conference will include child neglect and how this leads to exploitation, barriers to safeguarding, trauma-informed care, and child exploitation. It is hoped the event will enable practitioners to build their knowledge of neglect and exploitation and their confidence to tackle it.

Robert Strachan, head of the University’s Social Work and Care department, said: “Research shows that the effects of adverse childhood experiences can last a lifetime and that they leave children more vulnerable to exploitation. If we can spot neglect and intervene early we can make a difference. That’s what this event is about.”