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A summary of the NSPCC conference 2017 – ‘How safe are our children?’

10th July 2017

Last month we attended the 5th annual NSPCC conference in Westminster, London – and what a day it was! With expert speakers from a plethora of working backgrounds including the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, the Big Lottery Fund, Alberta Family Wellness Initiative and, of course, the NSPCC, the conference was overflowing with knowledge about the safeguarding space. Here a few highlights and insights from the day.

Claire Lilley – Head of Child Safety Online NSPCC

First to talk at the NSPCC conference was Claire Lilley, Head of Child Safety Online. Claire talked passionately about the work that NSPCC tirelessly achieve whilst sharing the hard-hitting statistics that demonstrate the need for this work to continue. A few of these statistics included:

Claire’s powerful talk finished with the surprising fact that there is yet to be an informed report on abuse, meaning that no one knows how many children and young adults are being abused. The world we live in since 2009 has changed drastically – we’re now digitalised. Claire’s message rang loud and clear: that we can help children get back on track and we need to. We need to count all children who have been abused because they are all counting on us.

Sara Rowbotham- Sexual Health Worker Hero

Next on the agenda at the NSPCC conference was Sara Rowbotham‘s talk, led by a clip from the recently aired docu-drama ‘Three Girls’ which explored the Rochdale grooming scandal. The scene shown dramatized the real-life moment that Sara exclaimed her frustration towards the police, council and social workers who had ignored the needs of the young girls that fell victim to grooming, sexual assault and trafficking within Rochdale.

It is safe to say that the scene left everyone in the room eager to ask questions about the horrors she discovered and, more importantly, what can be done to prevent these situations reoccurring.

  1. How did you initially deal with the situation?
    A. Firstly, I went through Childline, who quickly told me that the services were purely for children and young adults and I directed to their sister company, the NSPCC, who were able to give me some advice. I later went onto speak to the former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk who truly listened to me.
  2. What’s the one bit of advice you would give to people who observe this kind of situation?
    A. If you haven’t written it down, it didn’t happen. Always have evidence.
  3. What is the role of education in preventing this happening again?
    A. People within education have the opportunity to work with the support services. You can gather information and report it. In my case, a teacher at one of the schools played a big part in getting justice.
  4. What was the sentiment that you received following the docu-drama ‘Three Girls’?
    A. From what I’ve been told three arrests were made the night ‘Three Girls’ aired due to people coming forward.

Listening to Sara talk so passionately about her experiences and the need for change was extremely humbling for the audience. Sara’s determination is sheer proof that people can change the course of action and can help prevent and stop cases of child grooming.

Mahima Ahmed- Trustee, Apps for Good

Passionate and determined, Mahima Ahmed is the co-founder of Transit and a trustee fellow for Apps for Good. She’s also a biomedical engineering student at Imperial College (we are never going to say we are too busy again!). Mahima spoke graciously at the NSPCC conference about her efforts with Apps for Good which aims to ‘help young people make their future with new technology’.

A key message that Mahima conveyed was that, as adults, we have to work with young people – pointing out that although we are preventing children from risk by ‘banning’ social media sites, we are also taking away the opportunities that the internet presents.  This message was further reiterated from three incredibly passionate, confident and intelligent students from an Impero customer, Denbigh High School, who spoke of their entry to the annual Apps for Good Awards, which recognises the top apps created by students through the Apps for Good course.

Three more students from Impero customer, Bristol Free School, took centre stage and talked fervently about their role in empowering people online. The roles were reversed however, as they work extensively with the wider community in educating adults on how to stay safe online by, for example, being able to identify fraudulent emails. This reinforced their mission to promote how we can mutually benefit from opening up two-way communication between adults and young people – continually learning from each other.

Nancy Mannix- Chair and Patron, Alberta Family Wellness Initiate

‘The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) facilitates research into early brain development, as well as addiction and mental health treatment, and applies this research to policies and practices that support positive lifelong health outcomes’. Nancy shared readily her expertise on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and place-based transformation through neuroscience.

By examining ACE’s, the AFWI have discovered how neuroscience can aid in understanding addiction and other negative health impacts through ‘The Brain Story’.

By gaining an understanding into how and when to support young people in their development stages, Nancy explained how first line workers can drastically improve children’s chances to have happier and healthier lives by reducing toxic stress.  If you wish to learn more on this topic, the AFWI have developed a ‘Brain Story Certification’ for free, which includes videos of over 30 experts in neurobiology, visit their website here.

what we learnt from the NSPCC conference

The way we have progressed in the last 10 years with in the digital world has been outstanding and it is clear from the messages of all who spoke at the NSPCC conference that the opportunities it provides cannot be undervalued. Despite this, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done across multiple sectors to ensure our children are kept safe – a goal we strive to achieve here at Impero.

Full list of the organisation speakers at the event:  NSPCC, Apps for Good, Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, Triangle, Nottingham City Council, West London Zone, Barnardo’s, Early Intervention Foundation, ReThink, The FA, The Video Standards Council, Agenda, Palix Foundation, Calgary Urban Project Society, Ukie, Big Lottery Fund

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