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Taking action to keep children and adults at risk safe


Next Friday (1 February) sees the launch of the annual local Safeguarding Awareness Month.

This aims to raise awareness of the importance of keeping people safe by reminding us all 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, we will be supporting our partners on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Boards to share messages about safeguarding.

There are two Safeguarding Boards, one for adults at risk and one for children. Each Board is made up of different organisations including health services, local authorities, the police and voluntary sector representatives. The Boards are responsible for making sure there are effective arrangements in place for safeguarding adults at risk and children.

How you can help

Abuse can happen anywhere, by anyone. Some forms of abuse and neglect are obvious. Others are hidden.

You can help 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.”

Signs that an adult may be being abused

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  • becoming quiet and withdrawn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 that a child may be being abused

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 about and adult at risk or a child, please report it. You could help prevent further abuse. 

Who to contact if you are worried

There are people who can help – please contact:

  • For concerns about an adult in Cambridgeshire call 0345 045 5202
  • For concerns about a child in Cambridgeshire call 0345 0455203
  • 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 or adults’ 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
  • work to keep the child or adult safe.

You can find out more information at www.safeguardingcambspeterborough.org.uk.