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Contextual Safeguarding and CCE Policy Developments in Northern Ireland

Lanyon at sunrise
February 12, 2024
6 College Park, room 01/035, Queen's University Belfast
10:00 - 13:00

Safeguarding in the 21st Century: Contextual Safeguarding and CCE Policy Developments in Northern Ireland

Hosted by our Centre for Children’s Rights and Corrymeela, you are invited to a seminar and discussion reflecting on recent developments in safeguarding policy and practice. We are delighted to host Professor Carlene Firmin (Durham University) who developed the concept of Contextual Safeguarding. Carlene’s lecture will be follow by an update and reflection on progress in the development of a CCE (Child Criminal Exploitation) safeguarding policy in Northern Ireland.

To book a place, please email Siobhán McAlister ( noting any dietary or additional requirements. All welcome!

Contextual Safeguarding: Re-imagining safeguarding responses to young people abused beyond their front doors
Many child protection systems are built upon the premise that the state intervenes (via social workers) to protect children when they are at risk of harm within their families. However, children encounter abuse in a range of contexts beyond their front door, particularly during adolescence; whether being sexually abused by peers at school or college, criminally or sexually exploited by adults who they meet in public places or online, or being abused in their first romantic/intimate relationships. In response to a growing awareness of these issues in England, Professor Carlene Firmin developed the concept of Contextual Safeguarding; calling upon social workers, and the child protection systems in which they work, to assess and intervene with all social contexts in which young people come to harm. These ideas have now been adopted into child protection guidelines in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as into safeguarding policies in education, sport, hospitality and health agencies nationally, and internationally.  In this session Professor Firmin will outline the core components of Contextual Safeguarding and share how the concept has been applied by social workers and partner agencies. Highlighting key practice and policy resources that have been produced as a result of this work, Professor Firmin will close the session by outlining the questions that Contextual Safeguarding raises for how we conceptualise and implement safeguarding systems now and in the future.

Biography: Professor Carlene Firmin MBE
Dr Carlene Firmin is Professor of Social Work at Durham University. Carlene has researched young people’s experiences of community and group-based violence since 2008 and has advocated for comprehensive approaches that keep them safe in public places, schools, and peer groups. Carlene coined the term Contextual Safeguarding in 2014 to describe a vision for improving safeguarding responses to young people at risk of harm beyond their family homes. In 2016 she published the Contextual Safeguarding framework: a framework that has since been used to reform safeguarding responses and policy frameworks concerned with extra-familial harm in the UK and internationally. Carlene is co-convener of a special interest group on Social Work and Adolescents for the European Social Work Research Association; she is a Global Ashoka Fellow, and also a member of the Churchill Fellowship Advisory Council. She has written in the national newspaper, the Guardian, since 2010, and is widely published in the area of child welfare including through two sole-authored books. In 2011 Carlene became the youngest black woman to receive an MBE for her seminal work on gang-affected young women in the UK.

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
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Event Organiser Details
Name Dr Siobhán McAlister
Lanyon at sunrise