The University of Bedfordshire has been awarded over £850,000 of National Lottery funding to roll out a safeguarding framework to protect children from abuse.
The framework is aimed at strengthening the safeguarding response to vulnerable children and young people. The Contextual Safeguarding Framework was first developed by experts in the university’s International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking, at the Luton campus.
This new approach will explore, understand and respond to young people’s experiences of significant harm, which often occurs outside their family environment.
It will also look into the different relationships that young people develop in their neighbourhoods, schools and online – many of which often expose them to violence and abuse.
The framework was implemented in Hackney Borough Council last year. The funding from the Big Lottery Fund will enable the university to expand these services in three additional areas.
The International Centre is now looking for local authorities in England and Wales to apply to be one of three sites selected to implement the framework in different areas to see how it could work at a national level.
Principal research fellow Dr Carlene Firmin said: “It us fantastic that we have been awarded this money and it allows us to work with three more areas. It is a really exciting opportunity.
“Luton could be one of the areas that we support. Local authorities across the country can apply to be one of the three additional sites.
“The money will fund a hub of experts here at the campus which I will lead and we will be looking at the challenges to the child protection system and how to improve it. We will also be working with young people and parents, getting their views and how we can make the changes.”
Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We’re proud that National Lottery funding is supporting children and parents’ involvement in designing this important protection.
“Understanding their real-life experiences will be key to strengthening the safeguarding response.”