Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Anyone living or working in Torbay has a duty to ensure that the children and young people they come into contact with are protected from harm or abuse.

Owing to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions over the last 10 months, education for children and young people has been significantly disrupted which has meant some vulnerable children in our local communities that need help and support have become less visible to professionals and agencies.

Starting today, we are launching a campaign to raise awareness of how everyone can contribute to ensuring children and young people are safeguarded effectively and of help and support available to children, young people and their parents and carers.

Child protection referrals in Torbay rose during the first national lockdown in March 2020, this was in contrast to the national picture, where there was a reduction. Torbay’s Children’s Services currently received around 700 contacts a month to its Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, due to concerns that a child may be at risk. 

Nationally the total number of serious incident notifications during the first half of 2020/21 increased by 27% compared with the same period in 2019/20, with a significant increase in the number of babies under the age of 1 suffering a significant injury or being killed during the first lockdown.

The NSPCC reported in December 2020 that concerns about child abuse soared since lockdown measures were first introduced, and they have received over a third more contacts from adults worried about children experiencing neglect and physical abuse.

Frontline workers, teachers and volunteers already play very important safeguarding roles within Torbay and are often the first to notice signs of abuse, family related issues or bullying. Schools act as a protective factor in children’s lives and during the lockdowns have remained open to vulnerable children or children of critical workers.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “The aim of the campaign is to help us identify children who perhaps have become ‘hidden’ from some of the fundamental safeguarding opportunities that schools and sports clubs can bring.

“With limited opportunities for face-to-face contact and socialising, children and young people are likely to be spending more time online which could also put them at risk of harm or exploitation. We want to highlight that safeguarding children and young people is everyone’s responsibility. From family members, neighbours and friends to delivery drivers and postal workers, we want everyone to know that safeguarding isn’t about getting anyone in trouble, it’s about protecting a child or young person from harm or abuse. 

Nancy Meehan, Director of Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “Throughout the pandemic we’ve maintained a ‘business as usual’ approach, which means we want children and young people to know that if something is happening to them that is making them feel unsafe or unhappy that there are still lots of people working to listen and help them.

“Likewise if you are a parent or carer of a child or young person that is struggling, asking for help doesn’t mean you are failing, it means you are being a responsible parent. We are here to help you and keep you safe before situations escalate and more intensive support is needed”.

Worried about a child?

If you feel a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.

If you are worried about a child please call the Torbay Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01803 208100 or email Out of hours please call 0300 4564 876.

If you are a young person worried about your own safety or that of a friend call 01803 208100. If you need someone to talk to call Childline on 0800 1111.

Find out more about the services and support available to children, young people and families in Torbay including those with SEND on the services and support pages.

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