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Contextual Safeguarding Community Contexts: Adapting the FGC method

Contextual Safeguarding is all about changing contexts: from places and spaces where young people experience harm, into those where young people live safe and fulfilled lives. We do this by targeting the social conditions that are creating harm, working in partnerships with adults who care about young people and who want them to be part of their community. This sounds great, but how can it be achieved, in practice? How do we meet those people and work with them to shift the conditions of a context for the better? What skills and resources do practitioners need to facilitate this and how do services shift their focus from family safety to community-based contextual safety and measure the changes accordingly?   

To answer these questions, between 2019-2022 we worked with Kent Family Group Conference service to adapt their current family focused FGC work towards community contexts. We piloted a new approach that mirrored the traditional FGC approach but, instead of focusing on an individual child/sibling group and their family network, these new FGCs looked at a group of young people within their community context and drew together a network of people committed to making the context safer and better for them. In 2023, we expanded our knowledge and understanding about using FGCs in this way by working further with Kent and also with Wiltshire County Council and their commissioned FGC service, Daybreak, to understand this approach and its benefits for young people facing extra-familial harm.   

The resources in this section are designed to support: 

  1. Practitioners wanting to develop community-based responses that create contextual safety
  2. Service managers and strategic leaders keen to design responses that target contexts 
  3. Funders and commissioners who are interested in resourcing contextual responses 
  4. Evaluators and data-analysts who need to measure safety contextually.

Some resources were made at the start of our journey into this work, whilst others, like the guide to delivering Contextual Safeguarding Community Group Conferences – has been written after several years of working with partners to develop this approach. As with all our resources, they are intended to inspire and support you in your own implementation of the Contextual Safeguarding framework. Although it is very important that any work that aims to follows the Contextual Safeguarding approach is aligned to the four domains and six values, we expect adapting the FGC method for contextual work will look slightly different in different places and that it will continue to evolve over the coming years. So please keep this in mind and please let us know of your own experiences of combining Contextual Safeguarding and FGCs. 


Guide to Delivering Contextual Safeguarding Community Group Conferences

This is a practice guide to delivering Contextual Safeguarding Community Group Conferences – an approach that combine Family Group Conference (FGC) methods within a Contextual Safeguarding framework to addressing extra-familial harm. This guide provides concrete examples of contextual practice responses that have been trialled and implemented within local communities through our research. In the guide you will also find a helpful summary of the similarities and differences between a traditional FGC and a Contextual Safeguarding Community Group Conference and well as supportive information for managers and service leaders.   

Webinar: Contextual Safeguarding Responses and Outcomes Webinar

In this webinar, Rachael Owens discusses taking a contextual approach to Family Group Conferences and how this relates to measuring outcomes.