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August 2022

A slow cooker as a piece of safeguarding kit …

When writing my blogs, I like to focus on highlighting an action (such as something small or simple that everyone can do) to help us strengthen and build Norfolk’s adult safeguarding work. A key part of this is prevention. It is always better than responding to abuse after it has happened. I am sure you will agree.

A frequent conversation I have with colleagues from different services and agencies is: how do we know if we are making a positive difference? What can we point to that shows Norfolk is safer? Some things are easier to pick out than others.

For prevention, this is always difficult because we will never know whether it was the specific action we took which helped prevent abuse and harm, or something else. But, while it is difficult to measure, it does not mean we should not be doing it. It would be valuable to explore further how we could measure these types of safeguarding activities, so I welcome any thoughts you might have.

Preventative safeguarding is a part of promoting a person’s wellbeing. It’s in section 1 of Care Act guidance, which sets out how ‘wellbeing’ encapsulates all aspects of an adult’s life, including

  • protection from abuse and neglect

As Kate Spreadbury and Rachel Hubbard remind us, while the Care Act enshrines in legislation the approach we must take to the wellbeing of adults, some areas of wellbeing will be more important to one adult than others:

‘if we are mindful of an adult’s wellbeing during every contact, assessment or review, we can make sure that we engage in conversations with a view to preventing harm’
(The Adult Safeguarding Practice Handbook, pg 11 2020)

Part of a person’s wellbeing is how financially ‘secure’ they feel. With the current cost of living crisis, I have been thinking about how this may increase the risks of abuse and harm to adults.

For children, new evidence published by the Nuffield Foundation in March this year provides stronger evidence that links poverty to child abuse and neglect. The review found that changes in income alone, holding all other factors constant, have a major impact on the numbers of children being harmed. Reductions in income and other economic shocks increase the number of children being subject to neglect and abuse, while improvements in income reduce those figures.

For older adults, low income has been identified by The World Health Organization (WHO) as a risk factor in the abuse.

Financial pressures have been widely reported and many are struggling to cope. (Average UK food bill rises by £454 a year as grocery inflation nears 14-year high). Citizens Advice reported that food and fuel poverty has more than tripled in a year. It said that

‘a fifth of UK households now have an average shortfall of £60 a week between what they earn and what they need to cover essentials such as energy bills, rent, transport and food, as the rising cost of living leaves people with the lowest amount of spare cash in almost five years.’ Sarah Butler. Fifth of UK households now have ‘negative disposable income. The Guardian 25 July 2022

In Norfolk an Eastern Daily Press survey in April 2022 revealed the stark impact of crisis with families left with ‘£9 a week to live on'.

However, there are 2 very practical and measurable things we can all do to support people’s wellbeing:

Action 1: you could support the Better Together Slow Cooker Appeal. This project, run by Voluntary Norfolk, is hoping to raise funding to provide slow cookers to vulnerable people across Norfolk. With energy costs skyrocketing and inflation at a 40-year high, many people are faced with the very stark choice – eat or heat! Think of the slower cooker as a piece of preventative safeguarding with a small ‘s’ kit (scroll to the bottom of the page). Just like a leaflet or a poster.

There is also the Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) and the money is waiting to be distributed. A radio campaign will launch shortly, encouraging people to come forward to NAS. Age UK are already helping tell people about NAS and Anglian Water are targeting 1700 of their social tariff customers to clear their arrears and signpost to NAS. Norfolk Community Foundation are providing grants to VCSE organisations working with older people to pay for utilities and food costs, making the most of the trusted relationship older people have with voluntary and community groups.

Action 2: each of us will know someone who is financially struggling and who would benefit from this support. Please tell them about NAS and, if needed, help them make an application. The money is waiting to be spent.

These two actions can and will make a big impact. Helping someone cope with the rising cost of living reduces their vulnerabilities and maybe reduces the chance of them being a victim of abuse and harm. I know it’s a maybe, but I will take that.

A BIG thank you for a small action

On Saturday 30th July I was at Norwich Pride for NSAB to raise awareness about discriminatory abuse.

It was a great day of full-on celebration, colour and noise. We distributed 2,500 postcards, 100s of tote bags and leaflets.

This was only possible with help from Steven, James, Francesca, Tony, Florence, Victoria, Ben, Claire and Grace and I wanted to say thank you. Giving a small amount of time to help had a BIG impact. Next year my aim is to assemble an even bigger ‘safeguarding posse’. Why not make a note in your diary? I look forward to see you.

Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith

NSAB Board Manager

Email: walter.lloyd-smith@norfolk.gov.uk

Wednesday 03 August 2022