Adolescent strategy pledges to keep vulnerable teens safe and well

More than 2,000 young Wirral people have put their views forward to tell public sector partners how the borough can be made safer for them.

Wirral’s Safer Adolescents Strategy for 2021-23 has been devised by Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership (WSCP) in consultation with young residents from around the borough.

The strategy is to be used by the agencies in Wirral that play a role in safeguarding young people. It explains how those agencies can work together to help keep young people safer, by spotting some of the ‘vulnerabilities’ teens can experience. These could include issues such as domestic abuse, mental health, neglect or not being in education.

It also provides a framework for agencies to follow together, to support young people who have been harmed and tackle any individuals who have caused that harm.

The partnership has set out four action points to follow to help keep young people safe. These are referred to as ‘the four Ps’:

  • Prepare – understanding issues for young people and setting out how agencies work together, including volunteer services.
  • Prevent – the work the partnership will do to reduce vulnerability, to identify issues earlier and to try and prevent harm.
  • Protect – if harm has happened, how do services recognise, respond, and support young people?
  • Pursue – what actions must be done to tackle individuals, places or issues that have or might cause harm.

The strategy is a collaborative piece of work between safeguarding partners and led by; Wirral Council, Merseyside Police and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Cllr Wendy Clements, Chair of Wirral Council’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, said, “Being a teenager is a challenging time for many and we want to make sure we can be there to keep our young people safe. Only by working together and understanding what young people need can we do this properly.

“We’ve spoken to our young people to understand their lives, their thoughts and feelings. This has helped us create a strategy which gives local agencies and organisations clear guidance on how they can come together to make a difference.”

Supt Martin Earl, Wirral Community Policing, said: “There can be several factors that can contribute to a young people’s vulnerability and increase their risk. Recognising and managing vulnerability will help us to prevent harm.

“That’s why we’re proud to be a part of the production of a proactive and shared safeguarding approach to adolescent safety which will help our young people stay as safe as possible as they develop into adulthood.

“In theory, and in practice, this will mean understanding those factors that may increase vulnerability and risk and working across the partnership to support our young people.

“By utilising the four Ps, we hope to establish new and improved systems for preventative and protective work with our young residents.”

Following on from the production of the strategy will be training, creating resources to raise awareness and sharing things that have gone well, or not gone well, to make improvements.

Lorna Quigley, Director of Quality and Safety (Chief Nurse) at Wirral CCG, said: “Traditionally, safeguarding services were developed and structured to address risk within the family, but our own consultation has shown that young people’s needs and experiences are very different as they get older.

“Risks outside the home or family become more relevant and understanding the daily lived experience of our children and young people is key to reducing these risks risk and improving outcomes.

“It’s also vital that our statutory, public and private workforces that may work with young people are equipped with the ability to spot and respond to teens who may be at risk or require support.

“As such, Wirral will adopt a contextual safeguarding framework approach to adolescent safety.”

Image: Karl Solano

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