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Contextual Safeguarding Pilot

Contextual Safeguarding (CS) explores a new approach to understanding and responding to young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families, focusing upon the context in which harm occurs.

Project Description

The approach was developed by Dr Carlene Firmin MBE from the University of Bedfordshire who worked in partnership with the London Borough of Hackney, with aims to translate theory into practice and pilot across peer groups, schools and neighbourhood contexts. Work has taken place in secondary schools, on housing estates, and in a range of neighbourhood ‘hotspot’ locations where there are concerns about extra-familial harm, including violence and exploitation.

From piloting to implementation, a broad range of partners have been engaged in co-constructing and embedding CS. Through its local Contextual Safeguarding Project Advisory Board the project has engaged partners to build upon existing safeguarding practice adding context into policies and practice. Hackney Children and Families Services has created a system that can now: accept and record referrals for contexts as well as individual children or young people; effectively screen at the ‘Front Door’; assess peer groups, schools and neighbourhood contexts; and provide strategic partnership oversight at its Extra Familial Risk Panel.

These developments have allowed agencies to work together to target and change harmful contexts and locations. The project has also developed tools for practitioners and wider community to aid their involvement in CS. Practice tools and frameworks have been shared via an online CS practice network which currently has over 6000 subscribers.


DfE funded independent evaluation will be published in 2020.

Lead Organisation

London Borough of Hackney


University of Bedfordshire






Sarah Wright – Director of Children and Families Services –

Lisa Aldridge –

Addicus Cort –


Funding Information

Funding theme: Specialist interventions / target groups

Total amount awarded


Round 2 Mar 2017