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This section brings together two important aspects of Contextual Safeguarding.  Firstly, creating responses that increase safety for young people in a context.  Secondly, how we measure the outcome of these responses so that we know if they have made a difference. 

Some terminology to start with:

  • We use responses to mean any activity aimed at reducing harm and creating safety.  It can be anything from a formal programme, like a peer-led bystander intervention, to something that changes the structure or culture in a context like changing a school exclusion policy - and everything in between
  • We use outcomes to mean how we measure that contexts are safer.   This can involve looking at how an individual child is safer because of changes to extra-familial contexts, and also how groups of children are safer (some of whom may not even be known to you)

Here is a visual display showing where responses usually 'sit' in the safeguarding process. The assessment stage is followed by a planning stage and then the response.  Remember - what you do to make a context safer (the response) should always be based on a good understanding of the situation (an assessment). It helps to have this written up in a plan of action, so you can return later to review how things are going.  As you design your response, you need to think about how you will measure the outcome. Doing this helps to keep the focus on what you are aiming for and how you will know when you get there.   


In the Scale-Up project we found that responses and outcomes tended to be overlooked. But they are very important for linking together the Contextual Safeguarding domains:

Domain 1 (targeting the social conditions of harm) - Responses should  target the 'social conditions' of harm.  It can be tempting to reach for the usual interventions, but these often target the behaviour of individual young people.  Contextual Safeguarding responses need to change the wider ‘rules at play’ in a context.

Domain 4 (measuring outcomes in a context) - Responses that target the wider 'rules at play' in a context should make that context safer.  We can then move away from only measuring whether individual young people are safer and also measure how the context itself is now safer for any young people who are linked to it.

Before you get going, a word about the process.  When you first start to ask the questions - 'what does this context need?' or 'what does this young person need to feel safer in contexts outside the home?' - the answer might not be obvious.  Don't despair!  It might take you longer to work it out but be patient. If things don't go according to plan at first, review and try again. 

Don't be put off.  When practitioners took part in Scale-Up pilots to try out new responses they found it daunting at first. But once they had tried some new approaches, they were full of enthusiasm for the work and found it really exciting. When the pilots ended, many wanted to carry on because they thought it helped them to work in a way that really paid attention to young people's lived experiences, and really got to the heart of the issues.  The same is true for outcome measures.

The things we have learnt so far have been turned into resources to support you and help you on your way. 

Responses and interventions catalogue

Our Responses and Interventions Catalogue contains over 30 entries.  Each one is an example of a safeguarding practice response that has been tested by partners involved in developing Contextual Safeguarding work.