The Contextual Safeguarding Approach emerged from the PhD studies of Dr Carlene Firmin, MBE. In a review of safeguarding responses to nine cases of peer-on-peer abuse Carlene identified that risks to young people’s welfare escalated in their peer relationships, schools and neighbourhoods whereas safeguarding assessment and interventions targeted the individual young people and families affected by those contexts. In light of this finding, in 2015 Carlene coined the term Contextual Safeguarding to describe an approach to child protection in which extra-familial contexts, the interplay between them and their varying weight of influence on young people’s decisions, could be the target of assessment and intervention.
Since this time a team at the University of Bedfordshire (until June 2022) and at Durham University (since September 2021) has worked with practitioners around the UK and beyond to convert this idea first in to conceptual framework and latterly into approaches to practice and policy. The timeline below charts the key milestones upon which our current programme is built.