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Since 2016 the Contextual Safeguarding team at the University of Bedfordshire has run the Beyond Referrals project. The project examined the levers and barriers for creating safety in universal settings – initially with a focus on responding to peer-to-peer abuse in schools. Through this work we produced a series of self-audit tools for schools to develop their safeguarding response to peer-to-peer abuse and other forms of extra-familial harm (EFH) that may occur within or around school settings (see Beyond Referrals 2).

In this next phase of the project (2021-2022), we aim to transfer the learning from our work in schools, into other universal settings.

Working initially with three voluntary and community (VCS) organisations, including – a generic youth club, a sports club and a faith-based setting, Beyond Referrals 3 aims to:

  • Identify the barriers and levers to VCS youth settings understanding and addressing extra-familial harm in their settings and beyond
  • Inform the development of a set of tools and resources for VCS youth organisations to use to support safety in relation to extra-familial harm in and beyond their settings


Research data is being gathered in all three settings through observations, interviews, focus groups and case reviews in each VCS setting, as well as through a comparative review of policies and procedures associated with safeguarding and specifically extra-familial forms of harm, related to the settings. These research activities will be used to understand the barriers and levers for understanding and addressing EFH in these settings. The findings will ultimately be used to produce a set of tools and resources, including:

  • A toolkit for VCS settings to self-audit their understanding of, and response to, EFH in their setting and beyond
  • Resources for understanding the nature of EFH in VCS settings to inform the self-audit (including resources for engaging young people and parents/carers)
  • Resources for improving responses to EFH in VCS settings


Principal investigator: Paula Skidmore

Research Fellow: Lauren Wroe

Research Assistant: Vanessa Bradbury

Funder: Esmee Fairbairn

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