Friday (1 February) sees the launch of the annual local Safeguarding Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of the importance of keeping people safe by reminding everyone that the safety of individuals is everyone’s business.
Safeguarding is about keeping children, young people and adults, who are at risk from abuse and neglect, safe and secure by reporting any concerns or suspicions.
Throughout February the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Boards - multi-agency partnerships made up of representatives including Education, Health Services, Prisons, Local Authorities, Police, Probation, Voluntary Sector, and others - will be sharing messages about safeguarding, the role of each of the boards and how members of the public can share and report their concerns.
Abuse can happen anywhere, by anyone. Some forms of abuse and neglect are obvious whereas others are hidden and members of the public can help hugely by spotting and reporting any signs of neglect or exploitation of children or adults at risk.
Dr Russell Wate, Chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Boards, said: “We all have a role to play in protecting children and adults at risk from abuse and neglect by reporting concerns but we know that people aren’t sure what the signs are, or are worried about being wrong so we will be sharing tips and messages throughout the month to help you to identify the key signs of abuse and neglect as well as providing information about how you can report any concerns.
“We hope that by telling people about the signs to spot and how to report, children and adults at risk can get the help they need more quickly. I believe for a community to be good, honourable and just, we need to make sure we take care of the vulnerable in our communities. We need people to help us to do this by making safeguarding your business, in fact everybody's business.”
Everyone is different, but some of the typical behavioural signs of adult neglect can include: becoming quiet and withdrawn; being upset or angry for no obvious reason; looking unkempt, dirty or thinner than usual; sudden changes in character such as appearing helpless, depressed or tearful; physical signs such as bruises, wounds, fractures or other untreated injuries; the same injuries happening more than once; not wanting to be left by themselves or alone with particular people; being unusually light-hearted and insisting there's nothing wrong.
Signs of child neglect can include: poor appearance and hygiene - they may smell or appear dirty have unwashed clothes or seem hungry; have health or development problems - such as untreated or repeated injuries, poor muscle tone, thin or swollen stomach, tiredness or faltering weight or growth; housing and family issues - living in an unsuitable home, being left alone for a long period of time, taking on the role of carer for other family members.
If you have any concerns please report it so further abuse can be prevented. There are people who can help – please contact:
- For concerns about an adult in Cambridgeshire call 0345 045 5202 or for Peterborough call 01733 747474
- For concerns about a child in Cambridgeshire call 0345 0455203 or 01733 864180 for Peterborough.
- If someone is in immediate danger call 999.
- If contact is made early enough, it might be possible to prevent harm of a child or adult from taking place
When you report your concerns, children’s or adult services will:
- respond professionally and sensitively and take your concerns seriously;
- talk to the police if a crime may have been committed,
- provide help and support, and take action to end the abuse and try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,
- talk to other agencies that need to be involved, and
- work to keep the child or adult safe.