Reflecting on the Safer Culture North East partnership

 

Safer Culture North East is a partnership project of local infrastructure organisations Catalyst Stockton-on-Tees, Connected Voice, Durham Community Action and Northumberland CVA and VONNE, funded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) to deliver safeguarding training to the sector.

The funded project ran from January 2020 – March 2022 and the partnership: 

  • Delivered over one hundred training and awareness raising sessions on Training for trustees; Basic awareness and introduction; Designated person training; Safer recruitment for staff and volunteers. 
  • Developed a series of factsheets on Safeguarding for volunteers; Safeguarding for online services; Safeguarding for community groups; Safeguarding for trustees; Writing safeguarding children & adults policies and procedures. 
  • Designed social media assets to target informal community groups through the lockdowns, highlighting domestic abuse and the risks of financial and romantic scams and encouraging people to contact their local authority safeguarding contact if concerned about anything they have seen. 
  • Normalised conversations around safeguarding through regular items in our ebulletins and websites, signposting to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ resources for further information. 
  • Strengthened networks amongst infrastructure organisations, sector organisations attending training, and between the sector and safeguarding boards. 

Covid-19 restrictions meant having to make changes. The project changed direction in the early days to meet the emerging needs of communities, and the training sessions were delivered online.  

Dealing with sensitive and potentially triggering subjects while people are sitting in their own living rooms is challenging for trainers, and digital exclusion meant some organisations found it more difficult to access the online support on offer. However, delivering training virtually meant organisations from across the region could attend any session run through the Safer Culture North East partnership. 

Using our collective intelligence from the sector and our communities, Safer Culture North East has identified areas for future development including safeguarding issues arising from loneliness and isolation; targeted support for small charities; and specialist trauma informed safeguarding support for asylum seeking and refugee communities – particularly in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

All partners found it a huge benefit working together and the early responsiveness and flexibility showcased the sector doing what it does brilliantly, coming together quickly and targeting support at a local level. 

At the end of project learning event with national partners, DCMS and NLCF, we talked about the challenges and successes of the project; collective learning and future actions; and crucially, about the fact that delivering safeguarding support to organisations relies upon trusted relationships and open communication. This is the crucial role infrastructure organisations play. 

For more details about the project, or to discuss future activity, please contact anne.fry@vonne.org.uk