User Involvement in Adult Safeguarding - What Are You Doing?

08 December 2015

JohanJohan Baker, Adult Safeguarding Prevention Advisor, discusses the many strands of work that have been taking place in Wokingham to promote user involvement in safeguarding adults. 

In Wokingham, people who use services are involved in adult safeguarding through attendance at a forum, a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities, and a Safer Places scheme.

Strand One: Attendance at the local Safeguarding Partnership Forum 

This is an open forum, ie anyone who has an interest in adult safeguarding can attend. This meeting occurs quarterly and for at least the past five years users have attended and constructively contributed.

The forum has a Terms of Reference document, which can be found here and is shared with West Berkshire and Reading. The aims of the forum are:

  • To tell everyone about their local forum.
  • To get good results for people who need their help.
  • To set good standards so that the risk of abuse and neglect is less.
  • To work with other groups to make sure everyone knows what they should be doing and they are doing it well.

Who attends?

The forum is attended by a range of multi-agency partners and is also open to attendance by people who use services. Meetings on average are of between 20 and 25 people, with about 10 users as members and up to about five users attending at any one time.

At the moment the main attendees who use services have learning disabilities. People were recruited originally through the Safer Places Champions, who were asked to talk about the project at the forum. They were then invited to join the forum, and through word of mouth and my work with other community groups, other people started to join.

How does the forum influence the SAB or practice?

Members of the forum attended a consultation meeting in 2014, which aimed to help the development of the strategy and priorities of the Board. It was really important to consider accessibility needs before the meeting.

Some forum members have also taken part in work related to reviews following Winterbourne View. The SAB Chair has invited them along to Board meetings to talk about this work (with support as needed).

How is it funded?

The forum is funded through the Safeguarding Prevention budget, but costs are minimal.

What kind of things are people concerned about?

People have said they are concerned about:

  • community safety
  • mate crime (a self-advocacy group of people with learning disabilities is running a workshop on this)
  • personal safety
  • financial abuse (workshop planned).

The forum also acts as a space to provide information and updates on a wide range of topics; examples include updates from the Dementia Action Alliance, the Community Safety Partnership, the Police, information about the Message in a Bottle scheme, information about electricity companies’ priority registers, and updates from the Safeguarding Adults Board.

Key success factors:

Things that have helped the forum work well include:

  • It is held in an accessible, ‘neutral’ (community) building in a central location.
  • Provision of refreshments.
  • Materials in easy-read and on PowerPoint; copies available before the meeting.
  • It is led by designated role – the Adult Safeguarding Prevention Advisor connects with communities, facilitates support and keeps the momentum going.
  • Going out into communities to invite them along.

Strand Two: Safer Places Champions

Wokingham has a safe haven scheme called Safer Places. Through a Community Safety Grant, they employ three people who use services as champions who support me with the scheme. They make presentations to shops and businesses. They carry out admin tasks and help to promote the scheme to residents across the Borough.

All of the champions could be seen as ‘adults at risk’. They have presented to other local authorities about the scheme, which is a national initiative. They put packs together to give to local shops and businesses. They also attend community events to promote the scheme.

Strand Three: Self-advocacy group

CLASP (Caring, Listening & Supporting Partnership) is a self-advocacy group for people with a learning disability. Over the last year they have supported Wokingham to develop an easy read leaflet. They proofread the easy-read minutes for the Safeguarding Forum and more recently with support have developed safeguarding training for their peers for which Wokingham Borough Council’s Adult Safeguarding Team have given formal recognition.

The group has been operational for about ten years, and aims to:

  • Empower people with learning disabilities to speak up for their rights.
  • Promote independence and encourage community involvement.
  • Challenge people's perceptions of people with a learning disability.
  • Develop members' employability skills.
  • Influence local and national decision making (CLASP website, 2015).

They provide training on safeguarding to people who use services and professionals, which has been accredited by the Council’s training team, and as mentioned above are also providing information about mate crime to the forum.

They host a hate crime reporting service, run by people with learning disabilities, but for everyone. They can also signpost people on to other services if needed; they have referred issues including tenancy and housing problems and safeguarding concerns.

Summary of the learning

My role has been key in linking communities into the safeguarding agenda. However, I don’t believe that you necessarily need a designated role like mine - it is definitely possible to achieve community involvement in safeguarding by knocking on doors, telling people what you’re doing and asking them to be involved.

The important thing is to go out into the community - you can’t expect people to keep coming to you. Different forums and groups of people have different needs - they may prefer a representative from the safeguarding forum to go out to talk to them, rather than attending a meeting.

The biggest barrier has been time. It can also be difficult to carry on the momentum, but once you start something, you need to carry it on.

There were a couple of meetings last year where only a few people attended the forum, so I did some research to find out from people what stopped them from coming, and rejuvenated the meetings by making changes as a result.

Especially in the current climate where there is lots of talk about cutting services, it’s really important to keep communication channels open.

If you would like more information, you can contact me at johan.baker@wokingham.gov.uk


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